aaron swartz, 1986-2013


For now, this drawing will have to stand in for many things I want to say, but haven’t been able to. I was involved in a bad skiing accident three weeks ago and have been slowly recovering from a traumatic brain injury, which prevents me from reading or writing (but thankfully, not drawing). I felt strongly that I needed to add what I could towards remembering Aaron.

I would write so much more if I could, but in the meantime, you can read Tim Carmody’s thoughts at The Verge. I haven’t been able to read them yet, but I’m sure they’ll be worth your attention. RIP, Aaron.

P.S. Music has been wonderful for recovery, but my brain injury appears to make it hard for me to make high-level decisions about what to listen to! So if any particular favorites come to mind, I’d welcome specific track recommendations at rachelDOTisATgmailDOTcom.

Thanks to my friend Abby for help with transcribing and composing this post. 


7 responses to “aaron swartz, 1986-2013

  • James

    Be well. I don’t know you in the real world, but I have subscribed to your blog because I appreciate your articles, and your mind.

    Here is a music playlist of the music and sounds of earth that was sent into interstellar space on both Voyager probes. It was selected by a committee headed by Carl Sagan to present the diversity of music of human culture, and there are lovely things on this list.


    It is a tricky interface, you have to click on the spaceship, then the golden disc on the side of the spaceship, the disc again, and then the circle on the upper left, but then, you will hear lovely and wonderful things. Peace, and again, be well

  • benjaminpbreen

    I’m also wishing you the best; I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and other writings over the past couple years. I’m rooting for you! – Ben

  • Robert

    I’m very sorry to hear of your accident. Your blog has been valuable to me, especially what you’ve written about Devonthink. Get well soon!

  • sdu

    It is a strange thing about these interwebz: Here I am, umphty miles across the pond, reading about an accident and about a desperately sad and untimely death, in respect to two persons I’ve never met. And feel truly concerned. As if both were dear friends of mine. All my best wishes for a complete and speedy recovery, Rachel!

    In re music: Perhaps things you liked before the accident, the stuff still stored on your pod (or whereever), would work best. If that is not possible I’d personally opt for Bach, Haendel, Vivaldi, Mozart etc. In that case, Ottos Baroque Music (preferably via ad-free Winamp-stream) could do the trick.

  • Eccentric Parabola (@eccentricparab)

    Hello Rachel,

    Following on from my “get well” wishes via Twitter, I just wanted to let you know that since discovering your blog sometime last year I’ve now read every post from the start in Feb 2007 to this one!

    When I first found your blog I darted hungrily about (devouring the bookporn first!), then feasting/focussing on the PhD reflections and what it is “to do” History – before settling down to a more methodical, calm reverie – a daily diet of reading a couple of posts (and exploring some of your link recommendations) in sequence, mostly during my lunch hours.

    It is kind of weird, as I now feel I know you (a little) even though we’ve never met and you don’t know me. I certainly feel like we are kindred spirits though – not least in our both habitually haunting bookshops, archives, and libraries around the globe (and I’ll certainly continue to keep you posted on my bookporn related reflections and discoveries as and when they arise).

    Your blog is a real inspiration and it’s helped me hone my thoughts over the last ten months or so regarding my own academic direction. Our subject areas aren’t all that far apart and this has been a real bonus when reading all your historiographical musings. Many thanks for writing and sharing all that you do here.

    I really hope and wish that your injuries heal fast and fully so that you can get back to all the vital things – projects, pleasures, plans, and papers, etc. – which you so clearly enjoy and excel at.

    As to musical recommendations, I’ve no idea or inkling as to your tastes in this area – but for me I have two favs for relaxing and relieving the eyeball-ache from reading: Miles Davis ‘Kind of Blue’ and anything by Chopin … Akiko Suwanai is also another favourite of mine. Or Yo-Yo Ma.

    Take care, rest well and recuperate, with all best wishes


  • all’s well that mends well | a historian's craft

    […] spent the last few months clawing my way slowly back to functionality — through the vasty medical wastelands of headaches, dizziness, incompetence, frustration and […]

  • langkau

    I’ve always enjoyed your writings and thoughts. I just got around to read this and sorry to hear about the accident. Hope you get better soon. Hope is a good thing.

    From a huge island in the Far East

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