Art and Neurosis (Again)

francine hardaway
Stealthmode Blog
Published in
3 min readApr 22, 2024

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In the middle of the day, on an ordinary Friday in New York City, a man named Max Azzarello set fire to himself near the courthouse where the Trump trial is being held.

Both traditional media and social media took their uninformed “hot takes:” jumping to the conclusion that the man was pro-Trump or worse, anti-Trump, and was using self-immolation to amplify his political preferences..

Only later did we come to find out that Azzarello was not interested in the trial at all, but he had a message to deliver and realized that the people who amplify messages (reporters) might be around the courthouse because of the upcoming trial.

His message was bigger than either Trump or Biden.

As it turns out, we have a secret kleptocracy: Both parties are run by financial criminals whose only goals are to divide, deceive, and bleed us dry. They divide the public against itself and blame the other party while everything gets worse and more expensive and a handful of people take all the money.

The thing I found so fascinating about his Substack was that he didn’t seem mentally ill in the sense that we are used to thinking of contemporary mental illness. He wasn’t going to shoot up a school or a grocery store. Rather, he was a man who had done a bunch of research and reached the conclusion that nobody has agency over their lives anymore because the fix is in or the system is rigged.

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francine hardaway
Stealthmode Blog

Co-founder, Stealthmode Partners, helping entrepreneurs succeed