Excerpts from the Collected Letters of Julian Assange, posted on The New Yorker by Celeste Ballard.
I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film. I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about. I believe that it is going to be overwhelmingly negative for me and the people I care about …. It is contrary to my interests, and to those of my organization, and I thank you for your offer, and what I am sure of is your genuine intent, but I must, with inexpressible regret, turn it down.
—An excerpt from Julian Assange’s letter to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Assange in the film “The Fifth Estate,” written in reply to Cumberbatch’s request for a meeting.
Thank you for the offer of a burrito. My assistants have communicated your offering, and I have given it a lot of thought, and examined memories of previous burritos, which I was fond of, and were of the chicken and beef variety.
I think I would enjoy meeting you and meeting this burrito and shoving it in my mouth. The bond that develops between a political refugee and a burrito is significant. But I must speak directly.
I believe this burrito to be a potentially delicious burrito, but I do not believe that this burrito will sit well in my stomach. I hope you do not take this as an unkindness. It is, rather, a statement of fact. It is for this reason I must regretfully turn down your offer of treating me to lunch at Chipotle.
I believe you are well intentioned, but surely you can see it is a bad idea for me to get off of this elliptical machine even though I have been on it for more than the allotted thirty minutes.
Consider the consequences of me leaving this machine. My paunch will grow at a rate faster than the greed of your corrupt government. My abs, no longer rock hard, will permit my lily-white stomach to pillow over the waistband of my bluejeans. It is most toxic and I cannot allow it.
I must question the choices and motives behind your desire: the opportunism to weaken a body that has grown strong; the desire to climb hill after hill on a fat-burn setting; the wish to listen to Lady Gaga remixes while softly peddling a machine that is neither bike nor stair.
Equinox is an extremely wealthy organization, with ties to powerful interests in the U.S. government, and a most excellent 7 P.M. Wednesday spin class that pumps me up so I feel like a living god, an albino Sun Ra.
But I cannot heed your claims that I have been on this machine for too long. There is work to be done, and, in the interest of truth, lean muscles, and a tight little butt, I must push forth.
I cannot accept this T-shirt that has been shot out of a cannon into the stands of a basketball game.
I believe this is a quality shirt, a hundred per cent cotton, the fabric of our lives.
I believe that this shirt would not naturally wish to harm good people who are trying to enjoy the Harlem Globetrotters.
In other circumstances, I may have accepted this shirt, but since it has been shot in my general direction against my will I cannot accept its having landed in my lap. Especially when the woman next to me was waving her arms and screaming like a horrible banshee.
T-shirt guns are the most powerful and insidious shapers of enthusiasm at exhibition basketball games. I merely wish to watch these players complete trick-filled layups and enjoy their good-natured alley-ooping while downing a super-salty pretzel dog.
You are being used as a hired gun to propel cotton projectiles out of cannons not meant to injure but to gift people with apparel. Not because you want to, of course you don’t: I imagine the wages are negligible, the level of enthusiasm you must muster unfathomable, and the synchronized clapping, if I may be frank, disgusts me. You do it because, in the end, you are a jobbing T-shirt gun wielder.
It is contrary to my interests, and I thank you for the offer of this XXXL T-shirt, but I must, with inexpressible regret, turn it down. I will give it to this woman next to me, who has more or less already torn it out of my hands.