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Life On The Precipice (Gonzo Notes)

Posted in Creative Commons, and Gonzo Notes

Gonzo Notes” is Kit’s newsletter of political analysis and direct action tips.

… Or Kit’s 39th Birthday As A Metaphor

Here I am, writing to you from the edge. From many edges, really.

By the time you read this, I’ll have turned 39 years old. I’m on the edge of 40, on the edge, I guess, of middle age.

I recently found out that I have glaucoma in my right eye, meaning that I’ll spend the rest of my life on the verge of losing my vision, as long as the eyedrops keep working.

Right now, it also feels like the country and the world are on the precipice, too. The Oval Office is occupied by a giant crybaby seemingly intent on baiting foreign powers into nuclear war via Twitter.

Each day, we hear about the next incoming attack on our rights or our safety net, and wonder if we can hold back even a little of it, this time.

Nazis are organizing in our cities with a brazenness not seen for decades, and any attempts to stop them are criticized by voices from both the right and the self-identified left.

We may already be past the point of no return when it comes to climate change, but whether we’re still approaching that cliff or are already over it, we seem determined to crash as hard and as fast as we possibly can.

There’s been justifiable criticism of those among who us are only just now awakening to the current state of emergency, from those who have been fighting the horrors of war, inequality, white supremacy, and climate change for decades — or had their whole lives shaped or upended by them.

So while it’s important to acknowledge that many people have been living on the precipice their whole lives, it’s hard to entirely dismiss the feeling that our collective hold is slipping.

The human experiment is about making meaning out of nothing, and putting a narrative shape to a brief expanse of experience carved out of an endless void. We’re all, always, mortal, and living on the edge of the abyss, and trying to carve some tiny shred of meaning out of it.

Being an activist, being a radical, is in some ways about living a life that denies, in small ways, these massive systems that govern our lives, from capitalism to mortality itself. We seek to make change that lasts.

And so I look to acts of defiance, big and small, to inspire me to keep living. Just as we create meaning out of the ephemerality of life, in this state of emergency I believe we must find meaning in defiance itself.

Even when our efforts are crushed, even if we’re hurled into the depths, we must cling to that simple act of saying NO to the powerful, and NO to those who would destroy our planet.

It can seem like lonely work right now, but I also cling to the belief that a righteous anger still burns in the people around me, and that the many tiny twigs we each throw in the machine will all combine to someday bring it down, even if I’m not here to see when it happens.

Solidarity, forever, in life and beyond.

p.s. There’s one other way I’m close to the edge, though I hesitate to mention it. I’m struggling to fund the work I do, and the projects I want to do in the future. If my journalism matters to you, please join my Patreon, or make a one-time donation on Paypal. Even a small donation would make a lovely birthday present.

“In a way, writing was like healing: a cure for the loneliness he felt.” — LIBBA BRAY, “THE DIVINERS

Gonzo action tips

In the last issue of “Gonzo Notes,” I suggested that most people, and especially activists, should consider using a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN) to reduce the ability of our ISPs and other entities to track our internet browsing. Recent moves by Congress to roll back FCC privacy protections make this feel more urgent, although those protections actually never had a chance to go into effect before the GOP gutted them.

Picking a VPN can be bewildering, even with the resources I provided (like this comparison chart). Fortunately, a security expert that volunteers with Austin’s Oh Shit! What Now? collective offered these VPN recommendations:

They should be good enough for most uses, but you must do your own research before depending on these VPNs (or any security tools we recommend!) to keep you safe in a high-risk situation.

  • BlackVPN — located in foreign jurisdiction, no tracking of users. Generally acknowledged as safe. About $10/month, billed in 12 month increments.
  • Cryptostorm — located in foreign jurisdiction, no tracking of users. Generally acknowledged as safe. Allows anonymous payment methods (good for activists).
  • NordVPN — located in foreign jurisdiction, no tracking of users. Generally acknowledged as safe. Billed monthly, 6 months, yearly. Ranges from $5.75/month – $11.95/month.
  • VPNarea — located in foreign jurisdiction, no tracking of users. Generally acknowledged as safe. From $4.92/month.

For more tips on staying secure online, see “Gonzo Notes” issue 02 and the “Take Back Your Privacy” resource guide from OS! WN? collective.

Are there other security concerns or topics you’d like me to cover here? Email

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Life On The Precipice (Gonzo Notes) by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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