The Bitterness of the Long-Distance Writer: A Brief Rant About Email Snubs

This was written a week or two before I left for Finland. It’s not as relevant as it was, but it’s still relevant. Unfortunately. I’m posting it now because it will be a while before I have anything new, and because there are a few bits that I think have merit. Other than that, I just feel like sending the link to all the assholes who ignore my emails.

I used to think that, whatever else I might be, I wasn’t a bitter person. Somewhere around the time I turned forty, I began to notice that bitterness was making an appearance in my thoughts. Now I’m past the halfway hump to fifty—more dead than alive you could say—and there are distressingly frequent times when bitterness feels pretty central to my thoughts.

My only hope is that really bitter people don’t notice it when they are growing bitter; they just blame other people for their unhappiness.

I’m trying to accept that bitterness is part of the maturation process. Nothing is all bad: if it were it would have destroyed all goodness a long time ago. Bitterness is part of the flavor spectrum.

A bitter tone can be quite appealing in a writer. It’s faintly detectable in Chandler and Highsmith, and deliciously overt in Bukowski, three of my personal favorites. Maybe, like wine, human beings are made to grow a little bitter with age? Honestly, I don’t see how to avoid it. Life is a never-ending series of insults and disappointments that ensure the slow steady destruction of our illusions about ourselves.

When I was twenty, thirty, and even forty, I believed I would amount to something. I believed that someday I would be seen as a figure of historical significance. A voice to be reckoned with. I still see myself as that voice, but I’m no longer sure that I’m seeing anything besides a particularly persistent fantasy.

*

At this point, I ran out of wind. I keep wanting to write the words “the world.”

The world does not recognize my voice.

The world ignores my emails.

The world is indifferent to the point of contempt towards me, my life experience, and my accumulated wisdom.

But who is “the world”?

I could name names (the bitterness wants to) and they would hardly fill this page. Most of them I wouldn’t even remember. People who ignore us are quickly forgotten, unless bitterness keeps the spark of rage alive by starting a flame war or the offending person somehow makes amends for the insult.

Why should it matter if I’m ignored by people I have never met and know nothing about, people who may not even be alive for all I know? The answer is that it’s accumulative: the weariness, disgust, anger, humiliation, discouragement of a dozen, a hundred, a thousand silent expressions of contempt.

The message of every email reply that doesn’t arrive, the invisible “load” of the silence (which extends indefinitely, a snub is forever) is:

You don’t count. You are nothing. You have no value or significance. You are not even worth the time it takes to tell you to fuck off.

(As I write this, I realize it’s probably a pretty good description of how my father saw me.)

On the other end of the “snub” (which is usually imagined, because an unsent email, an unexpressed response, is no-thing), there are a thousand and one possible reasons, varying from personal catastrophe (marital breakup, cancer in the family, financial ruin) to simple (and increasingly common) over-extendedness, too many emails backed up so mine gets lost in the shuffle. (There’s also the possibility of an email that never arrives, which does happen occasionally.)

Face it, we live in times in which the once-“ordinary” protocol of manners is becoming increasingly impractical. As we use machines to increase the speed, frequency, and efficiency of our interactions, we begin to act and even think more and more like machines. The medium is the message.

This leads to a lot of bad feelings, most of which get pushed under the rug because it’s “uncool”—impractical—to address them. This doesn’t make it bad per se. But it does need to be recognized, because biological organisms can’t simply imitate machines in the hope of becoming more efficient without some serious psychological consequences.

Which wasn’t my point at all, but anyway.

My choice to see “email snubs” (unexplained silence) as a personal insult is just that—a choice. But it’s not a conscious one.

It’s not that I am so angry because the world ignores me and treats me with cold contempt. It’s more like I experience the world as cold and contemptuous because I am so goddamn angry. That rage has to find an object somehow, and what better object than faceless, often nameless strangers in unspecified locations?

As my brother used to say, If thoughts landed, no one would be left standing. (I’m quite sure there are people out there whose emails I’ve forgotten to answer. It’s never personal. And it always is.)

A little bitterness seems necessary to keep one’s self-respect alive. I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’m also not sure that bitterness isn’t really a symptom of a lack of self-respect, which is perhaps compensated for by a feeling of entitlement.

“Do you know who I am?” is the cry of a drowning man.

The other point of view is that rage fuels the engine of creativity, of which I suppose this latest is an example, however minor.

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24 thoughts on “The Bitterness of the Long-Distance Writer: A Brief Rant About Email Snubs

  1. Thank you for being you, Jasun. And most importantly, putting yourself out here all these years. You put a voice to a lot of thoughts I don’t (won’t?) express openly and it’s psychologically purging to read your writing, even your rants. :)

  2. Please know, Jasun, that your writings–email and other–are being read by people who appreciate your unique mind and written “voice.” This entry reminded me of how I let you down quite a while back when you asked for input on a certain would-be guru. I wanted so much to help out any way I could, but at that time just could not. I’m sure you’re referring above to other, more important emails, but I’ve felt bad about my non-participation in that project of yours ever since. If you’re ever curious about why I flaked out, just email me. Makes me wonder how many other times what seemed like a snub to you was actually just a damaged person getting triggered and sort of freezing up? Keep on writing and reaching out. It’s no reflection on you if people let you down…and yeah I DO know how difficult it is for people who’ve been damaged by the world to believe that. Still true.

  3. Thanks for your writings. I started with Lucid View and was attracted to read more because I was also interested in Castaneda, and Whitley Strieber (and Robert Monroe). Not so much for the stories but for the occasional blip of “yeah,I know that’s true”. Anyway don’t worry, probably lots of people who don’t talk that much read your stuff every time but didn’t know that you wanted responses. You could email me if you’d like and I would love to reply : D
    THANKS !!!

  4. Thanks back, to all. I write to connect, that’s the main motivation, otherwise I could just keep it in my journal, or my head. I always want to hear from readers – without the echo, how can I be sure I have made a sound?

    In liminal space you can’t even hear yourself scream. (or think)

    It’s probably infantile. I will get over it with time. I enjoy the process of getting over it.

    Practically speaking, I write for results, so knowing I have reached people, and in what ways, helps me to fine-tune the signal to better reach those who are listening (and potentially reach others who aren’t).

  5. Your projects are somewhat of a public diary, laced with insights and honesty. Interesting journey. Have been sporadically following for years now. Hope it’s helping you transform too.

  6. I have no doubt that your work has touched the lives, in a positive way, for many thousands of people, even if they have not responded. You are one of those people who have the ability to enlarge, and enliven, the mind and spirit of any who comes in contact with you. Rather like an excellent physician…a person goes in feeling awful, afraid, confused…and leaves feeling so much better than when he arrived:-)

    I know for myself I was attracted several years ago to the sheer quality of your thoughts and experiences. You have lived in so many places and known so many more people than I could ever hope to. And you have paid attention to those experiences, and have found ways to show your readers/listners what you have learned.

    There are so many people out there in the counter-cultural world with very loud voices and not a whole lot of depth or attention to detailed research. Your work is something I trust, I know you work hard at your research and there is no bullsh**, no grandstanding.

    I watched the other day on youtube the show that Rusell Brand is doing, Messiah Complex. I laughed quite a bit, but I found myself constantly saying…”but what would Jasun say to that…”. Brand is amusing, but doesn’t come within a mile of your intellect, or have ability to connect the kind of dots that are really meaningful to an ordinary person trying to make sense of a very complex world.

    Keep shining a light on your unconscious…keep bringing us what you find…and don’t let lapses feedback stop you.

    I also have an observation that people now are writing shorter responses to topics. Maybe things like Twitter and texting are teaching people to write less. I think I saw longer reponses to blogs and news stores a couple of years ago. Or I could be wrong:-)

    • I was talking about Brand with someone just yesterday morning (UK time). My impression is that he’s doing “Being the One,” complete with self-satire to deflect accusations of egomania, since he’s already owned up to anything he can be accused of. While his act may be spicing up the usual comedy routine by giving it a cosmic slant, he’s not really doing comedy, he’s platforming for himself. He believes his own satire (as did I), and wants to be seen as an awakenee, spreading the good news. But the medium is the message, and Brand’s brand appears to be his own ego; regardless of how well he dresses it up with galactic Christmas lights it’s the same old dead log. The proof for me is that he doesnt seem to be connecting to the people he’s talking to, only using them as sounding boards for his own shtick.

  7. Thank you! I knew you could explain why I felt that Brand’s subject matter wasn’t quite right. His intellect and approach to very complex ideas seems superficial to me. As though if you pressed against that bubble, it would pop into thin air. The writing he has done in the New Statesman is more grounded, but you are right, the comedy routine is just a stage on which to inflate his ego. That he *conflates* enlightenment spirituality with politics to get across his “message” is proof of just that.

  8. When we do things or say things, it will inevitably resonate with some people and not with others. Nearly always the latter will massively outnumber the former, due to the diversity of human nature. To be ignored does not mean you have been snubbed or insulted, but simply what you have done or said hasn’t resonated with those people. To interpret it as a snub or insult is, as you have correctly deduced, simply a product of internal anger or frustration. The key is to be happy with the numbers of people who are ‘getting’ what you say or do, or, if not, change what you are saying or doing in order to resonate with more people.

    PS Disagree about Brand. He may not be intellectual, but neither are most human beings. If you want to connect with large numbers of people intellectualization is, I’m afraid, not the way to go. You need the intellect behind you to know what you’re talking about, but the message itself has to be accessible and simple. That’s why Brand has got 7 million followers on Twitter and you complain you’re being ignored.

  9. Namaste`jake and peter peter a little background …..been dialoguing with jake for 10 years……I don`t think I`m intellectually lazy…..jake would be a better judge of that…..although I do not have the writing skills,/or amount of knowledge that jake has far frtom it……..so I do bring a bit of trepidation to the table.when posting……I`m now 80 years old and consider myself well read on esoteric/philosophy/psychology in general…….however I just read and whether I retain it or not not important to me……I believe in cellular and molecular memory…..if I need it,it will be there……..I would consider myself more of an intuitive than an intellectual….. now for jake…don`t get me wrong jake,,,peter says your message has to be accessible and simple……..with which I agree…….I do find your message accessible and simple and that is one of the reasons I`ve been around that long. I`m readind james evola right now ride the tiger……..I sort of get off on what he is saying but for me it is not accessible and simple give me the matrix warrior anytime……as for peter`s suggestion to be happy with the people who find you satisfying,me for one or change to resonate with more people well he could be right but would that be selling out…….somebody once said to thine ownself SELF be true….. hey Jake I hope you keep your warrior status.. take care derm

  10. Well had to reply, been wanting to email you for..probably years now. Odd how you keep resonating with me. And this well this would be the reason i did not. the violence of silence as you might say. All i can say is you sort my head out, I feel you and relate to you and well…its almost spooky not that i can pin point it. Soul group or something, like your pains are as mine. you have been a comfort Mr Horsley and I would miss you if you stopped sharing. x

  11. Hi Peter: My problem with Brand has nothing to do with his not being intellectual, but with his being insincere or (what I see as) less than authentic. Of course this is only my opinion, but his shtick doesn’t seem any different from David Icke’s, and attempting to change the world/wake up the masses seems to me to be proof in itself of ego inflation and delusion.

    Can the world’s momentum be changed by a single individual? In the cases where it appears to have been, as with Hitler, I think it’s invariably the reverse: the mass moving the man, like a sock puppet, rather than the other way round.

    Derm: no worries, I think it’s too late for me to sell out. if I’d had the success Brand had at his age, maybe. But my contempt for the Bitch-Goddess is so thoroughly established by now that I doubt I could ever really succumb to her seduction techniques.

    All this is useful to underline for me why I don’t want mass appeal. Actually, if every post I wrote received as much response as this one has, it would be plenty. Being able to dialogue with readers is important to me, and if I had thousands of comments I wouldn’t be able to. At the same time, having a significantly larger audience is necessary if I’m ever going to support myself by writing. But this is very different from trying to create a cult following, as Brand et al. seem to be doing. PK Dick struggled to make a name for himself so he could live off of writing, but he never strayed from his primary quest to get to the core meaning of himself and existence. To achieve authenticity.

    If I ever do get an agent, what would he or she say about posts like this one? I’d probably be told it was career suicide to reveal my inner workings, insecurity and neuroses to such a degree, and it may indeed be so. But when some or even most of my readers respond to this sort of confessional self-deconstruction, is it worth being more professional/successful if it means no longer answering their need? More to the point, will I be satisfying my own need to strip away all the layers of delusion/pretense by writing about it?

    Once in a while, authentic expression is rewarded with a large collective response (eg, Castaneda, Jung); most of the time a person’s mainstream appeal is an infallible measure of their having adopted a public persona that gives people what they want: reassurance that their lives are meaningful and that they can keep living on the surface and avoid succumbing to the uncomfortable depths that are always threatening to pull them under. My message is: you can’t, and why would you want to?

    Personally, I think a genuine show of weakness, self-doubt, vulnerability, frustration and despair, provided it can be done lightly and with humor, is more valuable than an assumed display of assurance, confidence, and “enlightenment.” And I hope that all my ranting communicates self-acceptance, since without it I wouldn’t be able to share my failings as I do. The medium is the message. On the other hand, Brand, with all his cosmic free-association about self-empowerment, communicates to me insecurity and self-obsession, which I suspect is always a cover for self-rejection.

    Thanks Michael & Mari for commenting at last.

    On a mundane note, my referring to email snubs was mainly in regard to professional people who lack the “common” (! As if!) courtesy of acknowledging an offer of material, even if to reject it, thereby recognizing how hard a struggle it is being a writer. While I admit it’s silly to take the unprofessional conduct of a few fuckheads personally, I still maintain that it’s worth challenging such behavior.

  12. Jason: Why is wanting to change the world proof of ego inflation? Are we all supposed to live in little bubbles and ignore everything that goes on around us? And even if it is ego inflation who cares? Apparently Mother Theresa was incredibly egotistical – does that negate all the good work she did in the slums of Calcutta? Surely we judge people on what they do, not on what psychological shit in their head inspired them to do it in the first place (which we can’t really know anyway and can only ever be pure conjecture on our part). Is Brand sincere? I don’t care. All I know is that finally someone with a massive media profile is saying the same things that we in the Occupy Movement have been saying for the last 2 years, and that can only be a good thing.

    • At the risk of being facile, people thought Hitler was a hero in the early years.

      The idea that motivations don’t count and only apparent deeds do is woefully naive, IMO. It’s based on a materialistic view of things which, if taken to its honest conclusion, is that everything is finally pointless anyway. What does it matter if society is changed or a few starving mouths fed when it all ends in the grave anyway?

      Mother Teresa, bleh.

      BTW, as i write these words, my apartment building is probably on fire. The fire fighters did a very poor job of containing the blaze and now it’s spread to our building. I am bummed out by the inconvenience, of course, but at a deeper level I see it is a VERY positive sign – especially since i was the first probably to notice the fire, and it was us who called in the firemen.

      The point being, the buildings can all burn (they will in the end anyway), it’s only the soul’s liberation from worldly constraints that counts.

    • Also, I don’t think wanting to change the world is proof of ego inflation, only that believing we can probably is. It could simply be naivete, which is definitely not a bad trait; but by the time you are at Brand’s level I don’t think it’s likely. He is probably naive about how the world works, however (assuming he’s sincere), and the possibility that, if he’s being given a platform to lobby against the powers-that-be, he’s been deemed useful by them (as a mook, or useful idiot — which fits Icke as well).

      Place this all in the context of a frustrated writer who wants someday to feel that his work has — CHANGED THE WORLD! Well, not really, because as I say I think the world is too large a system for the microscopic elements within it to alter it significantly – the tail does not wag the dog. But I do want to change individual’s lives in some way, and the proof of that would be some knock-down effect in their relations to others; so there’s a blurry line between. I also know that, since I am a cell in the body of the world, any permanent transformation of my own make-up will have a subtle ripple-down effect on the larger “body.”

      This is why I believe that one person becoming fully conscious, regardless of anything they do afterwards, will have more of a positive effect on the Universe than a lifetime of social activism and political reform.

      If your or anyone’s experience is different I’m open to hearing it; I’m not juxtaposing trying to change the world with living in a little bubble, but with focusing on helping those we can help and changing the things we can change, starting with our own awareness. I happy to support Anonymous and their PLAYFUL activities, because a) they aren’t making a name doing it; and b) whatever is done for the sheer enjoyment has the potential to spread goodness, just as small children, bees, and flowers spread goodness simply by being themselves.

      Would-be world reformers I regard with a mixture of suspicion and sympathy. I am afraid that they, you, we, are doomed to end up either dead (if we are truly effective, ie, honest), unwittingly serving the forces meant to be subverted, or else embittered and defeated. If Mother Teresa is the best example of a successful world reformer (or even Nelson Mandela), I rest my case. I simply don’t trust these narratives: I smell a rat.

  13. It probably goes without saying that I completely disagree with you, and the non-sequiturs in your argument don’t do much to change my mind.

    I’ll leave you to doing what you think matters, while I carrying on doing what I think matters. Hope you get over your bitterness.

    • http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/2013/10/RIR-131030.php
      Thomas Sheridan – The “Brand” New Purple Pill

      Thomas Sheridan is an artist, writer and musician from Ireland. He is the author of Puzzling People: The Labyrinth of the Psychopath and The Anvil of the Psyche. We’ll discuss Russell Brand’s interview on British Brain Control (BBC) where he advocated a SOCIALIST EGALITARIAN system based on the massive redistribution of wealth to solve today’s political problems. We’ll talk about why a socialist egalitarian system will most definitely not solve problems or free the people. Thomas explains how Russell Brand, the arm chair socialist, is not waking people up. Brand is put on the TV screens to placate the ones already ‘awake’, and to put you back to sleep in the belief that this is some kind of victory. It’s isn’t – it is showbiz being used as a social engineering tool yet again. We’ll talk about Brand’s connections, including The New Statesman, started by the Fabian Society, the London School of Economics, symbolism around him and his ideas of a new age collective utopia.

  14. Funny coincidence that this post gets bumped after the email we exchanged yesterday dealt with cynicism and bitter themes.

    That was an entertaining and insightful interview. Lifted me out my monotony state. Though it sounds like I heard all this before anyway.

    “But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.”

  15. I didn’t catch that. He was saying that we are being trapped to fall back into totalitarianism.

    Minor, but he also sounded robotic in the intro which struck me as creepy.

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