Famously Anonymous


Wednesday, April 22, 2020. I have to admit that I do still see people walking their dogs that I never saw out and about prior to the silly situation. But otherwise the world seems like a weirdly deadened ghost planet. I work this coming AM but get three days off and I’m running with it. I’d worked an extra day last week and this is the adjusting of the schedule – apparently, though nobody has admitted this, as part-time I was never supposed to have been scheduled for twenty-five hours/week but rather twenty, which makes sense. Or perhaps given the downturn in business during what would otherwise have been the busy season, they’ve cut back on everyone’s hours? I don’t know for certain because I don’t talk to anyone about it and nobody in a supervisory role communicates anything to me and part timers have in my experience always been considered second class citizens in the work world anyway so it’s not like I’m expecting anything different. So be it. It’s just a damn job. And given how I can’t seem to effectively snap out of this sleep deprived fog – yesterday I was a cotton-headed mess, just look at my lousy journal entry – I still sometimes wonder whether the day shift would’ve been the better call even given the two dollar per hour pay cut.

That, and the zero book sales, zero book reviews, zero feedback from Findaway regarding the audiobook and the consuming sense that I’m yet again perilously close to another vanishing point for my dreams is killing me. Why work these lousy hours on behalf of a project that seems doomed? Why pay for a website, Amazon advertising and for that matter why keep trying to edit TC2 if it’s all for naught? Am I such a fool, am I so self-deluded regarding the value of my work, have I gotten it so blatantly wrong envisioning myself as an authorpreneur that I ought to just dump it all? Am I really such a damn fool? Is Time Crime really that mediocre that it has perhaps already died its natural death and I’m just blind to it? There are copies out there supposedly in proximity to (if not in the hands of) people-of-influence and paying customers (very, very few of them to be sure) and again, if it’s a case of if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all, of folks being sensitive to insulting Angie, for example (because a couple of her friends bought a copy and her mother supposedly tried to read it) then there’s nothing for it except to admit that I’m an idiot.  To think that I’m indeed akin to William James’s father who wrote and wrote during his adult life only to literally never be read even after his famous son edited and published the man’s books is a crushing idea, a poisonous pill to swallow. I frankly don’t see a way past it. Ought I to quit? Then what? Seek full time employment? To what end? To fill my days with empty effort? To fund what amount to nothing more than my hobbies? I’d rather be dead. Because to me that’s merely a form of being dead. Fussing about during one’s last decades as an incidental, dotty, bourgeois cipher?

What to do? Struggle onwards? Keep battling? Fight the good fight? Damn the torpedoes? The idea of redoubling one’s efforts while losing sight of the goal is something to remain keenly aware of. Being stubbornly devoted to one’s mediocrity is as off-putting and unacceptably silly and pathetic as anything. It’s not a life. At least not the kind of respectable existence I’ve been striving to express. What does it make me to keep at a thing that doesn’t work, that doesn’t pay, that doesn’t connect, that manifests zero return? At some point it makes me an embarrassment. To myself and others. Keith and his novel. Keith and his writing. Keith and his so-called scholarship. Keith and his sad lunacy.

Fold your wings and drop. As John Gardner writes, it’s the option most of us wannabes struggle against perpetually. Quit. Throw in the towel. Accept your fate. Give up. End the misery. Take your medicine. Quit making a fool of yourself. Know when to quit. I tell you, fucking around on the night shift part-time doesn’t make a damn bit of sense unless I can generate a reason for it. Keith wants to turn his lousy novel into a lousy audiobook. It’s one stupid thing, one silly fantasy after another with this guy, isn’t it? When will he learn? Learn what? That he’s just a wannabe like almost everyone else. That he’s just a statistic, a data point in the bell curve of reality, stuck right there in the middle with all the zillions of skilled but not so much talented and therefore justifiably failed writers. He may have spent a little more money than most on his bullshit dreams but the outcome was to be expected regardless. In the end, despite the modern authorpreneur twist, he was just another vanity published moron clogging up the cosmos with his unsightly detritus.

All that said, I believe in the book. I believe in the value of the story. And having been a skilled discerner my whole life, I’m not ready to believe that I’ve got it all wrong with Time Crime. If for nothing else besides the fact that so much cruddy, worthless, lousy, incompetent dross gets bought and sold and there are good livings being made by legions of hacks – I read that Celine Dion, for example, is worth something like $700M – I’m going to keep at it. If Celine Dion can’t be called a hack, exactly, because she has a voice, at least, if not any musical taste, then Time Crime, with its professional production values and earnest inclinations and worthily mythological aspirations and modicum of structural substance ought to have some place in the world. It’s just another myth, just another authentically mythologically resonant story, neither entirely derivative nor at all groundbreaking. It resides somewhere in the middle, somewhere outside of amateurish and inside of readable. I think it belongs with the worst of the best. Perhaps I’ve got that ranking wrong. But it must have a place outside of my own head. It’s too true, it’s value as true-fiction is too legitimate. I know because I’ve lived it. I’ve written my life out by way of it. And my life isn’t anything besides a version of everyone else’s life. So that it must possess some measure of resonance.

I will post this. Despite it being just another worthless, unpleasant rant about things I cannot control. Who would read it? I don’t care who reads it. Or who doesn’t. Which is to say I don’t care that nobody at all reads it. Nobody has ever, not in ten years, read what I’ve written. Unless I’ve paid them. My editor. My book designer. My narrator, should that come to pass. All paid to read what I’ve written. A handful of friends and family have given it a try out of curiosity if nothing else.

Meanwhile, I’ve transformed myself into a public or semi-public private writer. Like so many other folks who write and indie publish and pay for websites and post blogs. We’re all famously anonymous, ubiquitously obscure, actively irrelevant, expressly invisible, unambiguously inessential and powerfully ineffectual. Which might describe exactly the mission statement on the back of your artist-craftsman card.

DOP1 (2010-11) VINTAGE POST: The devoted reader may be interested to know that we’ve already reached the halfway point of DOP1 – my method of posting multiple posts has drastically compressed the time frame for getting this stuff up and out, as it were. I could hold back but something tells me that stretching out the entries in real time, which would require something like nine or ten years of daily posting, won’t accomplish much. They likely won’t accomplish much being spewed forth in chunks either, but my gut tells me to get this stuff out while I still give a shit about doing so. If it comes to pass that somebody, someday (heaven help me a reader!) suggests that I decrease the portions, well, then I’d be happy to reconsider my plan.

Chiaroscuro: Shadow & Light

“We are interested in selling your headcheese. Can you send me some info and pricing?” – The Produce Station, Ann Arbor.

It’s my first and only unsolicited inquiry. https://www.producestation.com/ This is the place that had the kitchen fire and is working out of Union Hall until theirs is rebuilt – they’ve been around since the 70’s, in a curious spot on State Street near Stimson, across from the U of M golf course. I only go into detail because I’ve never even fucking been in the place in all the years I’ve lived in Ann Arbor. They’re not a place that I considered to be interested in things like headcheese; mostly because I see the middle-of-the-road food they cater (for a million dollars a year in catering business!). It’s not crap, it’s just food-cost-focused, middle-of-the-road product – they’re in BIZZNESS. But needless to say it sort of stunned me and Angie. Life is crazy sometimes. You put the energy out there for what you want – you “aim and fire,” you mostly miss, and then you hit something you weren’t even aiming at. Or it hits you. I’m not counting on a sale, especially once they see what I have to charge (and still not make a dime for myself) but hell, it’s a good feeling to get something back for once that feels like the world is looking for you, instead of you pounding away forever trying to get their attention.

Having plodded through the inevitable “follow-up” emails to most of the out-of-state food purveyors that I shipped an h-cheese sample to, and of course getting only one response – a “thanks we’ll let you know” – I spent the majority of the morning applying to bullshit jobs that I don’t want and wouldn’t get even if I did. The job market is a complete joke. For me at least, I don’t think it’s possible any longer to actually get a job by using anything but the “who you know” way to go. But I’m keeping my feet moving, because that’s how the world works – that’s how the wheel in the sky turns – if you wait around for somebody to call or knock or otherwise become interested in your pitiful life, then you’ll wait yourself right into the grave. Why? Because the world responds to positive action with positive action.[1] Maybe not the action you were hoping for, but positive nonetheless. If you’re passive, then you get nothing at all back or you get something worse than nothing. I don’t know exactly why life works better when you’re on the offensive – fortune favors the brave or whatever. Neither can I explain why pushing too hard, holding on too hard, not practicing some unattachment so often chokes the life out of your goals. It’s some sort of chemistry that you have to practice and get as right as you can and your heart is the only thing that can effectively guide you in this. The heart knows what’s really important and it usually takes the mind at least a little while to catch up, so it’s good to learn to follow your intuition, because intuition is more responsive when you need it to be.

The Produce Station didn’t even ask for a sample. Zingerman’s never seemed really interested in a sample, though I gave them one anyway, and when they asked for another one it seemed, except for Ari possibly, like I was a pain in their ass. Crazy. It’d be crazy if Produce Station said yes, but now it wouldn’t surprise me, one way or the other. It’s already been fun to have this shit happen. And damned if this headcheese doesn’t continue to be some sort of conduit or means of connection to the world for me – it’s the one thing in such a very, very long time it seems that gives me back more than what I put into it. Of course I’m not talking about money – that’s yet to work itself out – but as long as I keep chugging, keep taking steps, it seems to reward me with at least some meaningful return of some type. What I like about it too is how there seems to be some room to make mistakes without courting disaster so to say. I remember that from being young, a kid – that space to try things out and have the world give you the benefit of the doubt. It gives you confidence to keep going and keep trying and keep being yourself; to keep taking risks. I think I had that only as far as elementary school; soon afterwards my “self” began to take some seriously painful hits, and maybe my heart has been taking on a little water so to say ever since, even though I’ve been “bailing” like crazy to stay afloat. Ugh, what a shitty series of metaphors.

I’ve been re-reading about the so-called “shadow” aspect of the unconscious, mostly by way of Campbell. That part of us that we repress as not what we want in ourselves but that still exists, in the shadow of our being. It can and does rise up – the shadow, the demon – and Campbell says it’s a necessary part of who we are; that expressing some aspects of the shadow can be useful and necessary to becoming who we are – “…it holds not only what is good for you but what is bad as well.”[2]. But if repressed too forcefully and completely for too long, there will be an “enantiodromia” (a word created by Heraclitus, appropriated by Carl Jung and used by Campbell) – a “reversal” where “you are out of control; the inferior character has taken over” and “that unrecognized, unheeded demon is going to come roaring up into the light.”[3] This explains a lot to me about what happened in TX.

“If your personal role is too thin, too narrow – if you’ve buried too much of yourself within your shadow – you’re going to dry up. Most of your energies are not available to you. A lot can get gathered there in the depths. And eventually, enantiodromia is going to hit….”[4]

I can remember talking to our marriage counselor (in Texas) at a very critical time about what I perceived and described as “energy” that I was getting from an emotional relationship at work. I knew it to be dark and dangerous and threatening to my long-term happiness and identity – everything was at stake really. Yet I felt powerless over it, as if I were in a fever or a feverish grip. What I realize now is that the months and months of acute stress, combined with my own weaknesses and the temptations of my environment, had made me vulnerable to the grip of my shadow; what I was once able to successfully repress, refuse and bury within my psyche had indeed, as Campbell describes in Jungian terms, risen, and with a vengeance. If, as Campbell suggests, there is good, or positive energy as well as negative energy in the shadow, it becomes almost impossible to negotiate while in the grip of enantiodromia – altruistic good is replaced by selfish, self-serving “good.” Nonetheless, in this case, maybe it was the energy I needed, that my heart needed, but I had shoved too much of true self down there – I did NOT have most of my energies available to me and it was those very energies that my heart was craving and that I believed for some crazy time I was getting or could get from this other woman. Campbell disparages the idea of love at first sight, calling it merely a projection of our ideals onto someone else who we can’t possibly know well enough, who can’t possibly possess or maintain those ideals. Such projections come from within us, they’re what we want projected onto someone else for whatever reason, but they are essentially false and time and again life proves to us that true love is a different thing altogether.

Anyway, I find it very helpful to be working this out now because for years it has seemed like a crazy, mysterious part of myself that I didn’t and couldn’t know. It seems now that it’s simply my shadow – my lower self that I’ve refused to embrace as part of me and that I therefore did not have access to, and that was holding or retaining some my true energies – authentic parts of me that I need to access, in a healthy, productive way, to be who I am. Campbell advises that “You should find a way to realize your shadow in your life somehow.”[5]. I won’t quote the whole damn chapter, but Campbell describes the useful parts of the shadow as those parts of you that are essentially unacceptable or repressed indirectly by society because you identify with the persona you create for yourself, that which is too influenced by what others want or what you perceive that others want from you; your shadow basically says “fuck you” to all the “interminable inquisitions” and can give you access to “potentialities that your ego and your persona don’t want to accept.”[6] I believe it’s just these potentialities, these energies, that my own heart was struggling to actualize and that I had buried (over years and years of rational leverage) too deeply and for too long. Under extreme duress, I broke – my persona cracked – and my shadow rose from the depths unexpectedly, unwanted and, until I was able to understand some aspect of what was happening to me, almost unrestrained. I’m grateful for the folks, those marriage counselors, who had the professional wherewithal to give me something to hang onto, some means of regaining myself, of regaining at least enough of myself to level out of the flat spin I was in.

I took my “skills test” at zcob mail order (ZMO) yesterday. Here I thought it might actually be an interview – har! How stupid on my part – I knew it was a cattle call for holiday help yet for some reason I thought they’d take time to interview folks. But I guess it’s what I’d do in their shoes – just call folks in, ask ‘em the hours they’re willing to work, test ‘em a little to see if they can accomplish the tasks required, then see if you can get a large enough crew of competent folks together, along with some extras in case you lose some, mid-season. It’s a minimum wage job, with no future except a slight chance that you’d get to stay on in some low-paying role after the holiday crew gets cut. I think that’s exactly what I could do because I’m top-notch, A-1 talent. I killed the skills test like I kill every fucking work test. I’m not being cocky or overconfident, it’s just that the expectation is always so fucking low on behalf of employers that a fucking moron could do this shit. The entire work world, as far as I’ve experienced, has nothing to do with the abstract, with the life of the mind, for learning and growing. It has to do with getting something done – some worthless, mind numbing task that the guy in charge doesn’t want to do himself. Except when you create and own the business – the abstract concepts indeed get applied there – at least for the businesses that begin with creating meaning. Versus beginning with trying to satisfy only a perceived need for example. I’ve talked about all that before and it’s dealt with expertly by Ari in his books and by other folks like Guy Kawasaki et al. so I won’t bog things down here with any more talk of it.

[1] I’ve made no reference here to Karma Yoga because I’d yet to read about it at the time of this entry. Again, I could have edited out everything in this journal that is somehow addressed more completely or with more competence later, but then it wouldn’t be a journal anymore. So be it. K.E. 8.27.2013.

[2] Joseph Campbell, Pathways…, 74.

[3] Ibid., 64, 73.

[4] Ibid., 73.

[5] Ibid., 75.

[6] Ibid.