Technological Wizardry with Nathan Fox
Most of us don’t know how to code; we don’t know the basic building blocks of what makes technology work for us. Truthfully, it is a language all its own, and to those of us that don’t speak it it’s a mystery. There’s something magical about it. And those who do speak it, those who can write with it and create programs that make our lives easier or battle the viruses that seek to destroy our digital lives, are something magical. That’s the argument that Psychology Today makes about Richard Stallman’s work, and the inspiration that the magazine shared with Nathan Fox when they invited him to illustrate for them.
Stallman has been engaged on a quest to bring freedom and privacy back to the digital world through personal computers and “free” software that is fully transparent so as to ensure it doesn’t spy on us. Much like Radagast the Brown, or Gandalf (mostly when he was Grey), he uses his powers to fight for his version of good while remaining relatively off the grid. Nathan took all of these inspirations in a series that he illustrated for Psychology Today, imagining Stallman as a technological sorcerer.
In one image we see Stallman destroying the digital slavemaker culture and bringing in a more natural idea of what technology can be. In another he overlooks a whole grid from the mountain top, protecting it, barefoot and armed with a staff. One of the signatures of Stallman is that he carries a recorder (the instrument, not a audio recorder) to play at any time. Fox imagines Stallman in a sort of floating meditative bliss, playing the instrument through the extensions of his own focused energies.
It’s not often that we think of technology blended with the purity of a natural wizard or sorcerer, but as our online and digital lives become stickier, murkier, and more secret we need an order of magic men like Stallman to help protect us and thanks to Nathan Fox we know what that could look like.