Things That Can and Cannot Be Said
November 9, 2015 11:10 AM   Subscribe

One morning as I scanned the news...I thought of Edward Snowden and wondered how he was holding up in Moscow. I began to imagine a conversation between him and Daniel Ellsberg... And then, interestingly, in my imagination a third person made her way into the room—the writer Arundhati Roy. It occurred to me that trying to get the three of them together would be a fine thing to do.
John Cusack (yes, that John Cusack) asks Arundhati Roy to join him and Daniel Ellsberg on a trip to Moscow to have a conversation with Edward Snowden posted by aerosolkid (29 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
If you are interested in what Snowden has to say and how he is doing, then go directly to him
posted by Postroad at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Aside from policy interviews, I feel like I've been out of the loop about Snowden's current state.

Roy jokes that "someday the NSA will hand us a transcript of our conversation", but does the US really know where he is, exactly?

The Swedish inverview above hints that there's still a bit of subterfuge when it comes to meeting Edward in person. It would seem obvious that the Russians won't willingly cooperate with the Americans on locating him, but it has to be certainly possible that the Americans do know it all by now. Is there a link somewhere that knows more?
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:42 AM on November 9, 2015

You know, he's just going to stab Snowden in the throat with a pen, right?
posted by Samizdata at 11:42 AM on November 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

Oh how lovely*, thanks OP

and conceptually, how lovely to note that its been published by Outlook
posted by infini at 11:47 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I ask google how tall Cusack and Snowden are it says 6-2 and 5-11.

If Cusack is 6-2 and not wearing heels Snowden looks more like 5-7.

There is no Edward Snowden in the first 3/4 of the links. He shows up finally in number 4. They don't ask what I want to know: is he a (present or former) combatant in an Inter-Agency action?
posted by bukvich at 11:51 AM on November 9, 2015

Cusack's Twitter feed has always fascinated me precisely because it is so unlike what you'd expect a celebrity's feed to be - only when he's got a film out does he talk about "the business," and sometimes if a fan says something gushing about one of his films he'll sometimes acknowledge it or crack a joke (someone said they saw him in one of his early 90's comedies and John asked "do you want your money back?"). The rest of the time it's either links to youtube videos, links to random weird photos he puts up on Instagram, intense conversations about politics or arguments with trolls and grammar nazis. A friend of mine joked that his publicist must rate his tweets based on how many shots of Maalox they need to take after each one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:59 AM on November 9, 2015 [17 favorites]

This is all kind of blowing my mind, thanks for the post.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:02 PM on November 9, 2015

Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things is one of the most gorgeous books I've ever read. Her writerly sense of detail is profound and her use of language is hauntingly beautiful. That is something that can be said.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:17 PM on November 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

A friend of mine joked that his publicist must rate his tweets based on how many shots of Maalox they need to take after each one.

Eh, "iconoclast who marches to a different beat" is a pretty well-worn public persona. Works for Bill Murray.

Unless presented with evidence with otherwise it's safe to assume that any celebrity persona that emerges on social media is a carefully constructed PR project. You don't get to be a successful celebrity without crafting and maintaining an image.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:30 PM on November 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, Cusack seems to be an interesting guy. I am very interested to read all four of these pieces. Thank you, aerosolkid!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:31 PM on November 9, 2015

It's not really a public persona as it really is him:

Hey Reddit, I’m John Cusack. I make films and we can talk about that if you like, but I’m also on the board of directors of a new organization called Freedom of the Press Foundation[1] . My fellow board members include legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, writers Glenn Greenwald and Xeni Jardin, award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow.

We all came together in December to try to start a broad movement to help protect and defend the First Amendment, given secrecy is at an all time high and whistleblowers have never been under greater attack.
So, it's the non-celebrity him. This is his non-actor self.
posted by I-baLL at 12:47 PM on November 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things is one of the most gorgeous books I've ever read.

I read it about 15 years ago, and, to this day, when I get sad or upset, the line that pops into my head is "Ammu! Feeling vomity!"
posted by Errant at 12:54 PM on November 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

Eh, "iconoclast who marches to a different beat" is a pretty well-worn public persona. Works for Bill Murray.

Bill Murray doesn't tweet that Obama is as bad as Dick Cheney or that the staff of FOX news is a "satanic death cult" interspersed with antique photos of pantsless guys playing pianos or Damian Hirst paintings.

There's "marches to a different beat" and there's "what the fuck?....".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on November 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

> It would seem obvious that the Russians won't willingly cooperate with the Americans on locating him

You mean, if there's nothing in it for them that they want, or that just Putin wants? Because if there were, and we were willing to pay, Snowden's toast. That thay haven't forked him over so far means they're asking too much for him and whoever's in charge of payoffs to the rooskies doesn't think Snowden is worth it.
posted by jfuller at 1:18 PM on November 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

...or that Putin's investment in 'a new Cold War' for his own PR would be hurt by anything considered as 'cooperative to America's Evil Empire'.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:32 PM on November 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'd think Snowden's value as human rights fillip/ongoing low level embarrassment to the US is surprisingly high to Putin given the basically zero cost of keeping him.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:55 PM on November 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

Is he actually going to talk to Snowden or just stand outside his window holding a boombox over his head?
posted by w0mbat at 2:12 PM on November 9, 2015 [17 favorites]

sio42: Yeah, she did.
posted by I-baLL at 2:23 PM on November 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's simple : Any Russian regime that hands Snowden over makes themselves looks like an American lapdog. Putin would not offend many ordinary Russians' sense that Russia possesses an independent national vision, not unless he got something of clearly greater value. There is otoh zero strategic value for America in capturing Snowden, except it'd please the fascists running the CIA, NSA, DoD, etc. Ain't actually so easy for the American intelligence community to cut a deal with the Russians. Almost anything valuable they could give Putin would make them look like traitors, if it ever leaked.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:32 PM on November 9, 2015

"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world -- a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you."
"Well, shit on that dumbness, George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didn't vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today -- and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever."
"Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid rich kids like George Bush?"
"They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us -- they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them."

              -- Hunter S Thompson on America from John Cusack's AMA
posted by jeffburdges at 4:10 PM on November 9, 2015 [18 favorites]

Louis CK : Ian McGregor :: Meatbomb : John Cusack
posted by Meatbomb at 4:12 AM on November 10, 2015

I can't quite get a grip on Snowden. He's a hero in my book. A man of conscience in an increasingly cynical world. But he's a non-patriot now, without a country, a citizen of cyberspace: worldwide conferences and lectures, ensconced in a series of hotel rooms.

In Russia.

Truly ironic, considering that it's NSA's amoral expeditions into cyberspace that he gave up his cushy life-style to expose. I worry less for his physical well-being than I worry about his fading into obscurity. It may well turn out that the ghosts in the machine already have gained sentience, and Snowden's adventure is for nothing--maybe we're already animals of the herd, with safety only in numbers. We wring our collective hands and mumble among ourselves to no good purpose.

But I'd hate to think he passes through this era without leaving a dent in the system.

Go Snowden.
posted by mule98J at 8:37 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Actually Snowden has radically altered the priorities of many software developers and users.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:40 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Actually Snowden has radically altered the priorities of many software developers
Starting next year, Microsoft will give European customers the option of having their cloud-based data stored in new, Germany-based data centers.

Notably, the data centers, in Magdeburg and Frankfurt, will be operated by T-Systems, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. "Microsoft will not be able to access this data without the permission of customers or the data trustee, and if permission is granted by the data trustee, will only do so under its supervision," Redmond said.

The move comes as companies around the globe remain concerned about the reach of U.S. surveillance agencies. By housing these data centers outside the U.S. and (ideally) beyond the reach of the NSA, Microsoft hopes EU firms will feel more confident doing business.

"Our new datacenter regions in Germany...will not only spur local innovation and growth, but offer customers choice and trust in how their data is handled and where it is stored," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

posted by infini at 2:17 PM on November 11, 2015

Awesome! I'd expect Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, etc. to soon follow. There is nothing but good to come from CJEU ending Safe Harbor, also thanks to Snowden and the journalists who work with the material he provided.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:31 PM on November 11, 2015

What sort of love is this love that we have for countries? What sort of country is it that will ever live up to our dreams? What sort of dreams were these that have been broken?

"Nations are as equal as so many madmen or drunkards, and I'll drink dead drunk the man who disputes me. Hear reason: nations are not so puny as to shrivel and vanish at the first tampering with their past, no, nor with the tenth. Nations are monsters, boy, with guts of iron and nerves of brass. Waste not your pity on them." --Fritz Leiber, The Big Time

"Whether there is any kind of truth that can serve as a basis for ethics, for morality, and what is real in the world? For me, ethics is not about obeying the commands of this imaginary entity or that imaginary entity. But it all revolves around the question of suffering, which as far as I understand, is the most real thing in the world, or the thing that is most easy to test. It's reality, suffering is real. It can be the outcome of all kinds of imaginary stories and entities, but the suffering itself is real. The easiest test whether something is real or not, just ask yourself, 'can it suffer?'. A nation cannot suffer. We say that 'the nation suffered a defeat in war', this is just a metaphor. A nation doesn't suffer even if it loses a war. The people in the nation, the civilians, the soldiers, they can suffer, but a nation doesn't suffer." --Yuval Noah Harari, The Myths We Need to Survive

"If you're gonna have everything available, abundant, doesn't that mean everyone's gonna use up the resources more quicker? No. The reason we use up the resources so quickly is because we have a world where we think everything is scarce and we're frightened to death that tomorrow may be a rainy day, so we hoard, we consume, we inflate our possessions so that we can be a bulwark against a bad day and everyone else who wants to get the goodies. And that's how we determine status in society. Those who have; those who have not. In a world where everything's relative, not everything, but most things are relatively free and abundant, we wouldn't have the desperate climb to hoard and we wouldn't see any particular status in doing it because everyone's on an even playing field. So I have some guarded hope on it but I will say this. We need a change in consciousness to go with this technology platform. We need a new narrative. We need to shift from geopolitics to biosphere consciousness in one generation." --Jeremy Rifkin, Are We Moving from a Capitalist to a Collaborative Economy?
posted by kliuless at 8:24 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

MeTa (sorta).
posted by homunculus at 2:06 PM on December 5, 2015

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