If you are following the fascinating fate of the Australian international troublemaker extraordinaire and genius Julian Assange, and his brainchild Wikileaks, you will find this report interesting, and possibly depressing. The reporter is Andrew Fowler, an Australian journalist and author of a recent book about Assange.
Assange certainly has an association with wrecked working relationships, but why? Does he have some brain-based flaw, or is it that his extraordinary mission in life as the creator of Wikileaks is inconsistent with normal human teamwork and relationships? Can anyone blame Assange for having an untrusting attitude towards others when his work unavoidably creates so many dangerous and powerful enemies? I've recently been reading a lot about the brilliant, complex and controversial Australian politician "Doc" Evatt, whom I have recently identified as a famous synaesthete, based on information given in the biography of Evatt by Peter Crockett (on page 9 if you are interesed). In a number of ways Assange and Evatt were similar. Both very intelligent, very ambitious, both Australian, both accused of paranoia, both hated by a significant proportion of people they worked with, both control-freaks and obsessed with power, both have/had a reputation for rudeness, both with a vision of international importance of significance to human rights. Evatt was a President of the United Nations General Assembly 1948-1949 and co-drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I believe that as a politician he was guided by a basically sound sense of what is morally right. Unlike Assange, Evatt had an apparently happy marriage. I guess Assange cannot afford such a relationship because his life is too dangerous, and he is accustomed to a life on the run, ever since his disrupted and fearful childhood with a mother on the run from an ex who was perceived as dangerous. In Fowler's report Assange mentioned that his children have even been threatened by his enemies. Evatt was also a man who lived with fear. He had a huge fear of flying, which was not entirely unjustified in the days in which he travelled, when air travel did have hazards, and he had work, including a period as the Australian Minister of External Affairs, which required lots of air travel. In the lives of Assange and Evatt we can see a mixture of huge intellect, huge ambitions and chronic exposure to fearful situations. It should be no surprise that such men might be a bit short with people.
Perhaps relationships are often simply too fragile to survive a life that is consumed with huge ambitions and associated hazards. Perhaps people who have great minds, and who dare to attempt to live out the full potential of their minds are doomed to live lives that are a hazard to relationships and other ordinary features of normal human lives. The fact that Assange has reportedly identified himself as somewhat autistic, and Evatt saw colours for the days of the week, which is synaesthesia, are possibly not direct clues about the prickly characters of these men. I believe that Evatt's synaesthesia was probably a side-effect of his well-developed brain, and perhaps it is the intellect and the emotions that make up intellectual giftedness that are really the interesting factors. Greatness isolates?
Reporter: Andrew Fowler
[transcript and video]
References about "Doc" Evatt
I have written about Evatt in this list:
Famous synaesthetes or possible synesthetes: a list of amazing people with references.
Bolton, G. C., (1996) Evatt, Herbert Vere (Bert) (1894–1965). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
[This authoritative article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, Melbourne University Press, 1996.]
Crockett, Peter (1993) Evatt: a life. Oxford University Press, 1993.
[See Google Books. The biography with the most focus on Evatt’s personality. Annoying in the parts in which fanciful Freudian psychoanalytic theory is applied, but still a good read. Reference to Evatt’s synaesthesia on page 9. Sadly, this book appears to be out of print and expensive to buy second-hand.]
“Doc”: a portrait of Herbert Vere Evatt 1894-1965. (director; Pat Fiske, producer; Denise Haslem, research, script and interviewer; Pat Fiske, David McKnight), Film Australia, 1995.
[A most interesting documentary. Includes many interviews with people who knew the man. Covers Evatt’s international and Australian achievements, what he was like as a person, and his successful marriage. Available as a 57 minute VHS video or 57 minute DVD. More Australian public libraries should stock this doco in DVD format.]
The Evatt Foundation (accessed 2011) Doc Evatt: a brilliant and controversial character. The Evatt Foundation.