Freedom or, Death : Thoughts on the Life and Death of John McAfee Part 2

The Outsider Series

A Few Missing Links and Some Unique Perspectives

John McAfee in New Mexico

A Creative Vision

In part 1 of this Blog series, I reflected on the ways in which the late Tech Entrepreneur and recent cryptocurrency advocate, John McAfee demonstrated highly inventive and ingenious methods in dealing with both the Media as well as the Public to take back control over his image and reputation.

As anyone who is being honest and truthful with themselves of the fortuitous circumstances which life can bring realizes that – life happens – and if one also lives their life on the public stage as John McAfee did for nearly half of his life – then it only seems reasonable that one would need to figure out how to take back the control of one’s life – including reclaiming the invaluable intangibles of privacy and anonymity – that we as private citizens often overlook and take for granted!

So many today – especially due to the allure and fundamental design of Social Media – seek the illusion of Fame – as if it may validate one’s existence and resolve all of one’s problems. Indeed, fame has its advantages but anyone who has witnessed the falls from grace that so many public figures have experienced these past few years should be able to see that Fame also has its disadvantages.

Fame has a price as well as its own limitations. Fame attracts attention – incessantly, sporadically and unpredictably – and not always favorably.

I have come to believe that in order to truly be free, one must “create” and even in the realm of creation – whether it is in business, communications or, any of the infinite forms of expression and art we can conceive of as human beings – it can be difficult to be “Objective” and in genuine allegiance to Truth.

Truth is evasive, it requires a comprehension which may be beyond the grasp of humanity or, at the very least of One Mind.

Every work of Art or, Piece of creativity – from a Painting, to a Book, to a work of Journalism, an Article, an Opinion-Editorial, a Blog Post, a Photograph or, even just a Tweet – all must abide by the same rules – the boundaries imposed by language, logic and imagery.

McAfee – The Entrepreneur, 2001

The extent to which we can serve humanity – whether it is through creating some product or, service which some people are unaware they needed or, if it is creating something which moves or, reaches people in a novel way and conversely sustains one’s faith in humanity – it is evident in my view that creativity seems to be closely linked to the evolution of our species.

Art or, an artistic vision can reveal to us new pathways or, possibilities previously unconsidered or, even known. However, one’s capacity to create, to understand is dependent on the composure, the frame or, strength of the creators’ “comprehension“. The less we can see, know or, understand – the less likely we can create something of value.

Every competing work of Art or, Point of View is usually comprising and representing it’s own unique perspective or, series of perspectives. The strength of this perspective relies on one’s accumulation of other perspectives and insights which somehow seem to illuminate something new or, useful. Even those works of art or, perspectives which appear absurd, chaotic or, experimental – if they are to have any lasting value for the human species – must provide something of value to future generations if they are to persist through time.

The greatest Art in my mind is that art which can encompass the whole as well as the parts simultaneously but also can demonstrate the the creator’s own talent or, unique abilities. In this way we learn of someone individually – microcosmically but also we learn how the part links to the whole – macrocosmically or, how the individual self links to the collective.

The more one has seen, tried, genuinely attempted and considered the more likely one can see how multiple paths may lead to the same destination.

John McAfee – in this way – simply knew or had acquired more paths to Truth than the average lifetime can even imagine to acquire.

What were John McAfee’s abilities? Was it Computer Science? Was it leading a small group of people and establishing a path forward in Business? Was it leadership? Was it problem solving? Was it in building trust in trying something new or, novel with enthusiasm and passion in otherwise stagnant circumstances? Is this not what an Entrepreneur or, Creative mind does?

There is another aspect to John McAfee’s life and mind which is worth drawing attention to to fully understand who he was .

The logic and the Patterns which rest beneath the surface

John McAfee was a Mathematician or, majored in Mathematics at Roanoke College, where he graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor’s degree. Eventually, McAfee would go on to work for diverse companies such as General Electric, NASA, Univac, Xerox, Booz Allen and Lockheed prior to freeing himself from the workforce by starting McAfee Associates in Santa Clara, CA in 1987.

John McAfee circa 1962

McAfee’s background in Mathematics and Computer Science is important to understanding McAfee’s view towards life and nature. Mathematics – at least the way I understand it to be – is a system of logic. Computer Science and Computing languages are run by code which exist and abide by different forms of logic as well. To recognize or, see that there are patterns which resemble each other or, overlap with one another beneath the surface of things is important to understand for anyone who seeks truth.

Consider the Matrix, the film which demonstrated or, illustrated how that our physical reality is an illusion – which mind you is an ancient belief going back thousands of years. Most things which cannot be seen often hold the most value – just consider our own thoughts – which shape our reality.

As Napoleon Hill wrote so eloquently in his magnum opus, Think and Grow Rich, “Thoughts are things”. Indeed, Thoughts create our reality as the Buddha himself implied centuries ago. Someone who appears to have known many things might also be someone who has thought many things, including problems and their solutions and in this way found resolution in countless ways.

To see the truth as it is – beneath the surface of things – can be a struggle in todays world, with so many distractions and soul sucking mechanisms which exist in society. However, if one truly has a grasp on the foundations, the fundamentals of what drives our society and its functions – one would be better equipped and more in touch with reality and what is actually happening around us. This is in my view, at least one of the aspects of McAfee which seemed to balance his mind and his image, which oftentimes appears “unhinged and sporadic” which is possibly what McAfee projected on purpose – likely in order to sustain freedom but also to self preserve.

The Merry Prankster

Life is short. Life is a Battle. Life can also be boring.

It is important to find one’s passion and to work towards some goal for the purpose of fulfillment but it is also important to have fun or, enjoy one’s self. Indeed, when it comes to telling white lies, fibs or, just yanking someone’s chain – there may be countless reasons for why anyone would choose to manipulate others, the public or, even the Media at large.

Bob Dylan, for example, seemed to understand at a remarkably young age and after becoming a world famous musician – that one does not need to divulge or, share the truth or, intimate details of one’s life with anyone and everyone they encounter in life. Dylan has been notorious in how he has played or, toyed with the Press as well as the Public for decades. Many who understand what people are drawn to realize that creating a sense of “Mystery” is often a great way to sustain interest in something, anything and most famously in one’s public persona.

McAfee – The Prankster
John McAfee in his 2013 viral You Tube video, “How to Uninstall McAfee Anti-virus Software”

To maintain an aura of mystery is also to control the way one is perceived as well as simultaneously deflecting or, diverting away from one’s true self. In doing so, one misses neither the best aspects of engaging with others nor does one sacrifice an inordinate amount of privacy.

In the end, I suspect McAfee relieved himself of much boredom and had more than a lifetime’s worth of fun playing with people’s perceptions of things – once again – either to maintain a sense of freedom as well as to self preserve.

An Entrepreneurial Mindset

John McAfee’s take on How It All Came to Pass

So, why does it seem to appear – as McAfee states in the video linked from his Twitter account here – that it seems that one life can be representative of multiple lifetimes?

In my view, this perception is the result of a few things but first – I would advise you to view the content to the right by clicking the play button.

First, in my view, McAfee was a creative spirit, whose energies found their expression into many different avenues and channels of life, business, culture and society.

Second – is an extension of the first – which is that McAfee was an Entrepreneur. From his earliest days as he describes, selling newspapers and then magazine subscriptions as a child and teenager – to eventually selling drugs in College (his own admission) – and of course, culminating in the eponymous McAfee antivirus software company he created in the mid 1980’s. To developing one of the first social media applications created – back in the late 1990’s – called PowWow. To the Yoga retreat he established in Woodland Park, Colorado which also saw the generation of a few books on Yoga and Spirituality. To the aerotrekking ventures in the Southwest US. To the natural antibiotics he was attempting to develop in Belize.

It seems that John McAfee was always seeking something new and was simultaneously building a team of people, delegating duties and tasks and also seeking ways to monetize something which he was creating or, would be creating. If this is not an Entrepreneur, I don’t know what is.

McAfee tried his hand and his luck in many different ventures and he may have had his plans and aspirations burned to the ground over and over again but he also rose from the ashes, over and over again. This is likely why we see so many paths, so many images, so many faces and so many incarnations.

McAfee was an “Entrepreneur” in every sense of the term and whether one has read Napoleon Hill’s masterpiece, Think and Grow Rich or, not – we can understand that at their core Entrepreneur’s are visionaries, opportunists – and in practical terms, seekers of something new, helpful, creative and useful for the evolution of the Species. In even more practical terms, what does an entrepreneur do? An Entrepreneur must be willing to risk everything in the pursuit of a single goal or, objective. To risk it all and put it all on the table in order to see their idea fruitfully grow and multiply into something which may benefit humanity.

This my friends, is why it “appears” that the man we knew as John David McAfee had lived so many different lives and traversed the earth on so many different paths – simultaneously – and interchangeably. An entrepreneur, when pursuing some new idea or, interest must be willing to drop everything in order to find the reward which can only be found through taking sufficient, “risk” and being completely wide open to the idea of something “brand new”.

To do this is to reinvent one’s self over and over again or, to find a new path to another part of one’s self. Musicians as well as Artists do this or, have done this for centuries and particularly in the past century or, so – can we not see how often artists have undergone countless name and image changes? Their countless entrances and exits to the world stage? Can we not see see that…

Adaptation is necessary for survival and preservation?

The individual that is awarded by nature in some way must convince nature – persistently – that they are worthy of Nature’s rewards by never giving up and constantly and passionately seeking resolution – until one day, God forbid – the door to freedom and autonomy may be opened. One must change with the times and adapt.

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

T.S. Eliot

Wisdom of Insecurity – Only the Paranoid Survive

No, I’m not referring to the book by Alan Watts – or, maybe I am – I am not entirely sure. However, I do know one thing – that the first and greatest threat to human beings is….’s own self.

The second greatest threat to human beings is…

…the rest of Humanity or, other people.

If life is survival and survival is preparation in order to self preserve then John McAfee’s famously paranoid reputation was likely rooted in real fears and real threats which for anyone who perhaps had acquired a reputation as a wealthy man as McAfee had is not entirely an unreasonable reaction to one’s circumstances.

McAfee in Colorado – during the time working on his Pow Wow / Tribal Voice Social Media Venture in the 1990’s
John McAfee in Belize circa 2010-2012
John McAfee at his home in Lexington, Tenessee

John McAfee’s paranoia or, depending on how you view it – his “paranoia schtick” – may be important to understand in a couple of different ways. First, when McAfee has been asked about his decision to keep weapons on his person as well to employ body guards has consistently made a valid point that in so many words, points to the fact that if one is to be robbed or, murdered – then relying on someone “else” to help them is simply absurd – which in my mind technically makes sense.

As previously alluded to in my first Blog Post, it’s likely that was McAfee just more in touch with all of the potential threats which live around us – everywhere we go. It might not be a coincidence that McAfee began carrying guns and dangerous weapons only “after” starting his Antivirus software company in the late 1980’s. What may have caused such a shift?

A part of me might speculate that after getting a serious and direct glimpse into the potential threats which exist in society – in cyberspace and otherwise – McAfee saw just how careless, reckless and oblivious we as human beings are to outside threats. As well as possibly recognizing how “unprepared” human beings are to such potential threat This speculation seems to make sense as it no doubt reveals how or, why anyone would begin to live their life “overly preparing” against threats – cyber or, otherwise.

Consider the following Essay McAfee wrote in 2019 about the value of Ignorance, A Thought Experiment with John McAfee.

McAfee was quite aware that our own ignorance can and is being exploited by motivated parties seeking power and control. Perhaps McAfee’s ‘recognizing’ of this threat and his reactions to such threats isn’t paranoia at all – perhaps to be complacent and careless to such threats is even crazier!

There is what one knows, what they don’t know and then there is what one doesn’t know they don’t know. Everyone of these descriptions implies or, reveals one’s ignorance about the world and their environment. Perhaps knowing that human beings could be extorted, reached, touched and invaded was enough reality for McAfee to make a decision to simply not accept placing his destiny and life in someone else’s hands – which actually seems to make quite a bit of sense.

You can’t be afraid of getting old. Old is good, if you’re gathering in life.

Bruce Springsteen

Every man, every human being, every life is composed of a multitude of parts. The man or, mind that can see the parts as well as the whole – simultaneously – and still retain one’s ability’s to function without harming others or, infringing on the rights of others may be considered a wise man.

So perhaps John McAfee’s life is simply a representation of a man who sought truth in many forms and through many pathways. The appearances or, the context and circumstances may have changed but the mind of McAfee became rich with such experiences and knowledge. The amalgamation of all of these roads traveled has amassed and built an image which is a sum of its parts and something larger than life.

A Link Between the Ages

We cannot know for sure how future generations will view John McAfee’s life and legacy. It seems to me that after growing bored with doing things which did not excite or, interest him, McAfee was always looking for something new – somewhere to channel the extraordinary energy and lust for life he possessed.

So who was John McAfee? A Student of life, a mathematician. A world traveler, a working man, a leader, an explorer of all things and all states of consciousness? McAfee was all of these things and more.

So, in this way – as humanity first uncovered and discovered new contexts through new innovations and advancements – from the earliest computers to fax machines to smaller and smaller computers until the computer began to resemble a living thing and could contract viruses. At the forefront of all of these developments, John McAfee was present and observing and even participating in such innovations. McAfee was one of the early investors in IBM – he worked for General Electric and NASA in the late 1960s and early 1970’s when computers were the size of whole rooms or human beings. McAfee worked for Xerox, an early pioneer in fax machine technology. McAfee wrote the first commercial antivirus software named after himself, McAfee Antivirus.

As a writer, a scribe for humanity – I find it wonderful and fascinating that the universe or, nature operates in such a way that human beings exist, live and cross paths with one another to be able to pass knowledge, information and experiences along through the chain of being. Somehow, the right voices and right people shepherd human beings through the ages – seeing or, being at the forefront of innovations and developments which empowers humanities bold and at times, blind, march through the cosmos.

The idea that we are all connected in innumerable ways touches back on the purpose of my book and some of the themes which may be found within its pages. That the things we create and innovate, all strive toward a common goal : Unity and Understanding.

All roads, human minds and human lives desire to reach this point.

The internet, for example, helps human beings see and communicate with each other but it also gives human beings the tools to misunderstand each other, to distract each other, to become complacent, dependent and dysfunctional. In my view, the internet is almost like the physical counterpart to consciousness yet – no matter how much data the internet or, artificial intelligence may gather – it can never compile and collect all that has ever occurred in the history of the Universe – as say the idea of the Akashic Records purports to represent. Proving that we still cannot find truth without the exertion of effort and genuinely searching within is a mildly comforting thought – at least for now.

As I reflect once more on the beauty of humanity and how we are living with each other and for each other – I am reminded of a famous passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay, On Self Reliance :

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In a video segment from McAfee’s time in Belize, McAfee states near the end, quite eloquently,

“I live my life through other people. Life to me is relationship and existence is relationship. I don’t think that people in total isolation can fulfill a human potential – because we are how we relate to the world. So, me – I see me as merely the reflection of you….and the ideas that wander through my brain. It’s as simple as that! I don’t care whether I talk to a prostitute or, some quadrillionaire that lives on the world. It’s all the same to me. They are my fellow travelers on this planet. They each have a fucking unique story and they each have a relationship with the world and I’m just telling a story and really it’s my story as told through the people around me by my voice. That’s it!”

Perhaps, in the end, facing the prospect of isolation and not being able to be around people in the final years of his life, John McAfee – having seen so much more of the world and acquiring more experiences and knowledge than many may acquire through the course of multiple lifetimes – tormented by the idea of being ripped away from the world and thrown into a prison cell – decided enough was enough and it was his time to quietly pass on – to the next life – to the next adventure – to the next phase of one’s destiny.


Published by Graham Ranseen

I am an aspiring writer working on a forthcoming book called, The Chain - about the connections and the overlap between Art, Truth, Spirituality and Identity and how these themes have conflicted or, have become blurred throughout History, Society and Culture. I work a Full Time job and created this Blog to capture and /or develop some of the ideas which - either temporarily or, permanently - might not make their way into my book and also as an aide to help me sustain the daily grind of a writer's routine. If I am not updating this Blog frequently it probably means that my time and my writing is being confined to my book.

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