Dev

_why resurfaces, posts a programmer’s ‘House of Leaves,’ disappears again

It may have been a while since you’ve heard the name _why. Or why the lucky stiff. Or Jonathan Gillette, the given name of the celebrated Ruby programmer/writer/cartoonist who completely erased his online presence in 2009.

Five years later, his site came back online with a cryptic, one-line puzzle: Public Print Queue SPOOL/DESOLEE 2012-01-06T08:21Z. Yesterday, it began posting a series of printer SPOOL commands. Today, the site is once again offline, reduced to a boilerplate GitHub 404 page.

why handThe commands, as a handful of _why-chasers found out, printed out a series of PDFs: essays, both typed and handwritten, drawings, explanations, photo-copied book pages, manifestos, and scribbled side notes. We’ve embedded the full text below and highly recommend you read it.

It’s not an easy read, and it’s even a bit unsettling in places, but it’s worth reading.

When _why disappeared the first time around, he made it clear through friends that he was mentally and physically fine but simply wanted to be left alone. His reappearance, cryptic messages, strange publication, and disappearance again are causing some folks to wonder whether the one-time hacker still maintains the same desire.

Were the PDFs just a creative outlet? A cry for help? A diversion? A trick?

Like so many other works of literature and art, the creator isn’t able to tell us, so we have to interpret what we can the best we can — or simply enjoy these writings for what they are.

Collected PDFs of _why

hat tip: weird-future/Medium


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