In celebration of Valentine's Day, this is a hilarious story of friend-seduction starring Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. From the Daily News:
This is a love story - an unrequited love story, but a love story nonetheless. 'My first thought upon seeing him was: cool guy.' This is how Daniel Domscheit-Berg describes his first meeting with Julian Assange at a conference of computer activists. . . . Daniel is smitten, and will remain smitten until, a year or two later, it all ends in tears.
'We used to be best friends, Julian and I - or at least, something like friends. Today, I'm not sure whether he even knows the concept. I'm not sure of anything any more.'
From the start, their relationship is that of servant to master, or disciple to guru. Daniel, dull and solid, is mustardkeen to do Julian's bidding, even to the extent of carrying his bags. Meanwhile, the vain and monomaniacal Julian barely notices him.
Before long, Daniel is tying himself up in knots about Julian.
'On the one hand, I found Julian unbearable, and, on the other, unbelievably special and lovable.' But between the lines, it is clear Julian finds Daniel a bit of a bore, worth tolerating only for as long as he kow-tows.
Julian gives little sign of noticing anything about Daniel but, for his part, Daniel takes an obsessive interest in Julian and his little quirks: the way he says 'hoi' instead of hello, and asks 'how goes?', the way he slides down banisters, the way he dances by galloping across the floor 'almost like a tribesman performing some ritual', the way he alters his name on his business cards to the more mysterious and glamorous 'Julian D'Assange'.
[W]henever Assange enters, we are all ears. Like most heroes and villains in literature, he is entirely self-centred and extremely peculiar. . . . He is a fantasist, and has what Daniel describes as 'a very free and easy relationship with the truth'. At one point, he tells Daniel that his hair went white from gamma radiation when, at the age of 14, he had built a reactor in the basement and reversed the poles.
The first cracks in the master-servant relationship appear early on. When they visit Switzerland to install a computer server, Daniel spends the rest of his money on supplies of Ovaltine to take home with him.
'I love the Swiss chocolate drink and for the rest of our tour I couldn't wait to get back home and make myself a huge cup of cocoa. But when we arrived back in Wiesbaden, the cocoa powder would be all gone. Julian had at some point torn open the packages and poured the contents straight into his mouth.'
Julian is forever taking more than his fair share of everything. 'If there were four slices of Spam, he would eat three and leave one for me.' Daniel often thinks: 'You could at least ask,' but doesn't like to say anything.
Julian is also something of a skinflint, always letting other people pay for things. He claims it's so his whereabouts can't be traced via a transaction with a cash machine, but when he uses this excuse straight after appearing at a televised Press conference, Daniel begins to smell a rat.
Before long, infatuation turns to irritation. Julian picks up women and brings them back to their shared hotel room. 'One night I really needed to sleep. I was dead tired, and I asked him to let me crash in peace for once. A short time later, I heard Julian talking to a woman on the phone...Julian insisted she come to the hotel. My problem was that we shared not only a room but a large double bed. I buried my head in my pillow and tried to sleep, or at least give that impression.'
[The] social isolation [of the Wikileaks team] fosters their self-regard, their notion that the world should be made to dance to their tune.
This turned, as Daniel says, 'two pale-faced computer freaks, whose intelligence would have otherwise gone unnoticed, into public figures who put fear into the hearts of the politicians, business leaders and military commanders of this world. They probably had nightmares about us. A lot of them probably wished that we had never been born. That felt good.'
In passages such as this, it becomes clear that the megalomania-they affect to despise in world leaders is as nothing compared to their own.