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We need to talk about Julian

Assange seems to be an insufferable narcissist who everyone wants out.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2013 22:21 IST

Modern etiquette dictates that you can’t even say Hamlet is a tragedy unless you preface the revelation with the phrase ‘spoiler alert’. So I won’t say which specific Agatha Christie mystery it is where all the characters commit the murder. But the notion of the ‘alldunnit’ comes to mind every time I think of those poor Ecuadorian embassy staff, holed up for more than six months at close quarters with Julian Assange.

I’ve half a mind to rush out a bad play set in a fictional version of that most claust-rophobic-sounding embassy, in which everyone from cleaner to ambassador is driven to wielding the knife on perhaps the most rapidly oxidising figure of the age.

The work, if you could call it that, would be a rather farcical sort of tragedy, for who in all seriousness can continue to suppress the odd smirk at the thought of Assange, holed up with his sunbed and his computer and his radioactive self-regard.

This week, we learned he had shed another high-profile supporter, Jemima Khan. It’s been a while since we heard from the Ecuadorian ambassador, initially so keen on her houseguest, but it is difficult not to read between the lines of Her Excellency’s November suggestion that Assange must be allowed to leave for medical treatment, and not wonder whether by then she had the terminal ministrations of a geriatric ward in mind.

Eventually, the embassy staff may be revealed as suffering from a perversion of Stockholm syndrome, when those doing the house arresting fall so deeply out of love with their victim that the only cure is to extradite him to the Swedish capital.

If you must see a conspiracy in all of this, is it not time that you considered the increasingly more credible one? Namely, that Julian Assange is a creation and agent of the global right, specifically designed to make the left look ridiculous.

Assange... the very name seems a sledgehammer hybrid of ass and angel, and with each balcony scene or face-saving desertion of a celebrity supporter, whichever CIA mastermind conceived Julian in a petri dish must be rubbing his hands with glee.

Quite where his narrative arc now goes is unclear. I suppose he might attempt to shoot his way out of his Knightsbridge bolthole like one half of Butch and Sundance, perhaps using a weapon fashioned from bits of his sunlamp and a USB stick. And so it goes on.

How can it be that the man who shot to fame engaged in a swashbuckling, sublimely modern form of secret-busting has caused his former allies to wince at his name, as one might over a particularly misguided and naff teenage crush? Clearly there are all sort of complex legal, moral, philosophical and psychological answers to that question, which I’ll leave to cleverer people to unravel. The quick answer is that Assange seems quite insufferable, certainly in any sort of long term.

If one subscribes to the view that only an ultimately insufferable narcissist could have had the balls to do what he did, then it was always going to come to this. But when so very few come out of a story well, from star to supporters, perhaps a mirthless laugh is the only option left.

The Guardian