Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine says, “You can tell me. I’ll put it in the vault.” Jerry says, “No good. Too many people know the combination.” He then makes a motion with his hand as if having a drink. Elaine protests, but later — naturally — we find out Jerry was right. Elaine can’t keep a secret when she’s drinking. And Elaine enjoys a drink. (“The Vault” shows up in several Seinfeld episodes.)
I love the concept of “the vault” because Elaine is rock-solid sure she can keep a secret. She’s a character of many delusions, that’s part of her charm. For some reason I keep thinking about Elaine Benes every time I read about WikiLeaks, and I know that’s silly but there it is. This is certainly a much higher-level situation than old boyfriends or office gossip, and yet I suppose I will forever be of the generation that views bizarre situations through the Seinfeld interpretive lens. It’s probably just a coping mechanism.
Is it me, or is there something really strange about the alleged amazement that U.S. taxpayers fund child prostitution for military recruitment in other countries, or that diplomats talk trash behind each others’ backs? I don’t think anyone is genuinely surprised. I think we are genuinely angry that now we have to deal with it.
In college we had a joke that you could pass a two-year course in Humanities by simply writing, “Knowledge = Responsibility” on your final exam. If no one can substantiate suspicions of the worst kind, the world will keep turning and we can go about our merry way. It is those moments when the blinders come off that for a moment the world stops turning, and we all have to take a look at where we will put down our foot that’s in mid-air. The beat is disrupted. Nothing looks or sounds the same, and there is a real danger of falling down. Hard.
Julian Assange is like the rest of us. He is not all good, and he is not all bad. At the end of the day my chip is on the bet that we will be very glad he forced the world to deal with serious issues of transparency and truth, and with the reality that words and actions have consequences. Too often we seem to operate as if it doesn’t matter what’s going on as long as “it’s a secret.”
Shhhhhh…….the Internet can’t hold its liquor.