Ross Ulbricht granted the digital world the Silk Road, a gift of freedom through anonymity—a Ring of Gyges—the possibility of disembodied mediation, to trade in the economy of illegality relatively safely, free from the direct violence of the face-to-face physical world.
Instead of being locked in a tower like Danaë by her father to avoid the prophesy that if she bore a son, he would be her father’s killer, we are each locked in our own towers by the possibilities technology affords us. The disembodied freedom granted looms as an ominous responsibility—it is the responsibility of shadows and ghosts—to act freely but remain free from the carbon consequences of physicality. But regardless of the legal constraints on society, or those imposed on Danae by her father, we have been impregnated culturally by technological possibility just like she was by divinity.
The abilities of a digital currency to be traded in the dark highways of the internet act as an engine accelerating human desires into drives, giving choice, no matter the unforeseen consequences, over curating our chemical lives.
In the end it may not matter how many have died from the creation of a platform that facilitates freedom, but rather that freedom itself will always open the space for the rising tide of determinism, both technological and existential. Life is a form of chemical madness, to be able to alter that frenzy at will—be it by helping others or popping a pill—is only another function of the pharmaceutical sublime.
Danaë by Gustav Klimt, created in 1907.
Based on the classical Greek mythology, Danae was the daughter of the king of Argos. In the myth, it is foretold in a prophesy that the king will die at the hands of his daughters son. In order to avoid this destiny, the king locks up his daughter in a bronze tower, intending to keep her there for her the duration of her life. Zeus himself desires this beautiful girl and eventually visits her in her tower, pouring in through the window disguised as a shower of gold coins, he makes love to her and impregnates her.
Her father becomes enraged at her inexplicable pregnancy, and unable to directly kill his only child he casts her out to sea, locked in a small wooden box.
She later gives birth to Perseus who after killing Medusa and saving Andromeda, in turn later fulfills the prophesy and kills his grandfather.