Bonnie Downing, a freelance writer who dated him on and off for a decade, said that he was “a careful explainer of things and a patient teacher of skills,” but that he “tends to live in a state of wreckage.”
“By and large he’s a 12-year-old boy,” Ms. Downing said, “living in a zombie movie and playing in the garage all day with leftover chemicals.”
Friends say Mr. Hackett is fiercely loyal to his family, although he himself said of his younger sister, an accountant, “Our relationship is basically running into one another on the F train.” (His sisters declined to be interviewed.) He is unmarried, and in place of domestic ties has surrounded himself with an extended family cobbled together out of like-minded makers and seekers — a kind of relational obtainium.