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Chris Locke, RIP

I do not like writing about the death of friends because it feels foolish to the point of arrogance to pretend to capture what we’ve lost. But I want to talk about Chris, so I will, without pretense of capturing anything at all…

I met Chris Locke, aka Rageboy (RB) aka Kat Herding, in the late 1990s. I was writing a newsletter (“Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization”). He was writing a newsletter (“Entropy Gradient Reversals”). Doc Searls was writing a newsletter (“Reality 2.0”); I can’t find the newsletter, so here’s his blog.  Chris thought Doc and I would get along, so he introduced us. The three of us, along with Rick Levine, ended up co-writing The Cluetrain Manifesto, which did well enough to let me give myself permission to call myself a writer. The book changed my life, and much of its success was due to its voice which came straight from Chris. 

Chris was a prodigiously talented writer. Here’s a sample of Chris flapping his wings; it may not be the best way of introducing his writing style, but I honestly don’t know what would be. Doc and I figure that he wrote the sample a few months after he was diagnosed with emphysema.

He loved the Internet deeply because it seemed to be an epochal opportunity to break the oppressiveness of industrial capitalism. This in turn mattered to him because he yearned for the release of the creativity and goodness and connection that he was sure every pair of manacled hands was reaching for. (Yes, he and the rest of the Internet hippies like me were wrong about that in important ways. Long discussion for another day.)

Chris was a complicated person. An autodidact. Publicly abrasive and fearless, and sometimes reckless. Privately and personally kind and modest. Undisciplined in some of his writing — a strength as well as a weakness — but highly disciplined in important aspects of his private life. As a self-termed gonzo writer, he likely would have liked to have been Hunter S. Thompson if Thompson hadn’t already taken the job.

Chris was wonderful to hang out with in person, but the Internet friends that gathered around him were a truly intimate social group, supporting him through his long illness, especially it seems to me the women. He and I fell out of touch, to my shame and regret. Nevertheless, his insights about the positive social nature of the Internet were not entirely wrong, at least for him. And his fierce, unrelenting yawp against the dark industrial forces that grind up so many good souls is piercing, needed, and true.

Chris was a character, fully formed yet becoming, his flaws an integral part of his being. I love him, owe him, and miss him.

Twitter: @KatHerding  Facebook: @KatHerding

I just read Doc Searls’ superb post about Chris.

Please read Liz Locke’s comment below.

RageBoy on a silly postage stamp.
No recollection
why I made this

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8 Responses to “Chris Locke, RIP”

  1. ????

  2. So, wasn’t supposed to be question mark, though fitting in so many ways. Was supposed to be cry-face, heart, cry-face because I didn’t know what words work to say my world is broken.

  3. Jeanne, you were such a good and true friend to Chris. He was so lucky to have you in his life.

    Love,

    David

  4. Don’t make me try to put the cry-face emoji in here again. ;-)
    I can’t believe he’s not here, and we still haven’t figured out all the dimensions of where here is. That doesn’t seem right.

    Love
    J

  5. Thank you, David.

    …Ai! ai! we do worse! We are in a fix! And you’re out, Death let you out, Death had the Mercy, you’re done with your century, done with God, done with the path thru it—Done with yourself at last—Pure—Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all—before the world—
    There, rest. No more suffering for you. I know where you’ve gone, it’s good.…

  6. I’m very sorry, David. I know you respected and loved him.

  7. David and Chris’s other friends somebody forward to Doc?) Thank you for feeling so much for a man I loved like no other, child of the same time, and parents, and teacher. I don’t live on the Net, but he trusted me to read his stuff, I guess since Reticulum, and it’s good to be reminded today by David’s and Doc’s words of a lovely old memory apropos.

    Chris was running a kichen cabinetry business called Inner Heat, doing a lot of cocaine, in love with a woman-not-his-wife who would one day come back to haunt him. He had purchased an Apple II for the shop. When I came into the room and remarked on it, his eyes were lit. He had been reading Fineman and McCorduck’s (?) Fifth Generation book on AI in Japan. He said, “Lizzie, What if it can write its own poetry?”

    He was a sorcerer, a sesualist, an idealist, a nihilist, a buddhist, and a liberation theologist in its broadest sense. A writer and a rogue, and among the most spectacularly interesting people I have ever argued with for more than 30 years. And he was hugely fortunate to have had you all as friends. Thank you for learning to love him, too.

    Liz Locke
    Norman, OK (unfortunately)

  8. Liz, thank you for the beautiful comment. I hear Chris’ voice in it. I miss it and I miss him.

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