Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cranky Old Codger Rant

I’m going to make a few quick comments on one the many unpleasant Movement phenomena that I have to deal with on a regular basis. As always, it’s largely an ego problem.

This week I had one of my fairly regular internet teapot tempests from some guy who is bitching about my quote-unquote “not answering e-mails.” Actually, I did. I answered a number of his e-mails, but apparently not at sufficient length and in sufficient meticulous detail to satisfy his ego and his sense of self-worth, or should I say self-importance?

For some people who get their noses out of joint with Harold, this is often the ultimate sin; my refusal to drop everything, sit down, hold their hands, listen patiently to the endless monologues in their heads, and then congratulate them on how brilliant and incisive and insightful they are.

Commonly they want me type them out long, detailed e-mails talking about literature or Jews or whatever, dissecting at length how many Stormtroopers can dance on the head of a pin, or other obscure and irrelevant points of history and ideology.

In essence, I refuse to sit around spending hours on end writing out for the benefit of individuals things that I have already said quite clearly and forcefully in my novels or on Radio Free Northwest, especially since a lot of these people just can’t seem to find time actually to read my books; they insist on having me personally spell it out for them for the thousandth time in a series of long, long e-mails or letters.

I’m sorry if I sound like a crotchety old man here, and if that’s the case it’s probably because I am a crotchety old man, an old man whose time is growing increasingly limited and short, but this is an intermittent problem and I’m going to give you the whole story without mincing words. If a few of you don’t like it, tough cheese. This is the real world here, and I have to live and work in it.

First off, I get hundreds of e-mails every week, to the point where if I sat down and carefully typed out a full and considered answer to all of them I would be doing nothing for twelve hours a day except answering e-mails. This is actually an old pathology within the Movement. I call it the Committee of Correspondence Syndrome.

I noticed back in the day when I began to get a little well known, that we have certain people among us of the more cerebral type, who seem to feel that our Movement should consist of a small group of frustrated intellectuals and would-be writers, armchair Caesar types, most of whom have very little in the way of actual academic credentials, who want sit in their studies or more likely at their formica kitchen tables, and write each other long, elegant, erudite letters describing the problem in endless detail. Letters doing what the right wing has always done best, constant complaint and impotent vituperation.

These pseudo-intellectuals want to spend their time in a little circle-jerk writing each other long, long letters that no one else will ever read or give a damn about, moaning and moaning and whining about how horrible it all is and how we’ve been so hard done by fate and so hideously buttfucked by life, on and on, year after year, in a kind of circle-jerk, each letter a masterpiece of polished epistolary elegance, like we were 18th-century squires or merchant princes writing to each other from our mansions and estates. Which of course is what most of the actual Founding Fathers were.

On more than one occasion I have actually had some of these guys tell me that we need to form a Committee of Correspondence like the Founding Fathers did back in the early 1770s, when guys like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin actually did spend a lot of time writing one another long, long letters on the political and economic situation, many of which have since been published in things like the Federalist Papers and so on.

Those letters are genuine historical documents; the fact seems to escape these people that in those days there were no telephones or television cable channels or e-mail, and letters by post coach that took a couple of weeks to travel from Massachusetts to Philadelphia or Virginia were the only way for the Founding Fathers to communicate. They also don’t seem to notice that after an interval of preparation, the Founding Fathers then laid down their quill pens and picked up their muskets. We have been in the Committee of Correspondence stage for 70 years now, and we seem no nearer to actually doing anything.

This is another case of what I call Movement sympathetic magic, an attempt to turn back the clock by imitating the outward manifestations of an earlier and better age. In a way the Committee of Correspondence Syndrome is kind of an intellectual version of the same Movement pathology that believes we can bring back the 1930s and the days of the Third Reich by dressing up in faux SA uniforms with Swastika armbands and running around in tiny groups waving a sign. Yes, I know, for a time I fell for that one myself. But I grew out of it.

Some of these people never do, and when I pass their e-mails on to Wallace or Harley James so that they can at least get some kind of polite response in some kind of reasonable time, they get all offended and their noses get all out of joint because I don’t sit down and engage in a long, detailed personal correspondence, usually with a total stranger whose true identity and true agenda I don’t know, about all of life’s deep and ponderable issues.

Sorry guys, I know you don’t like it, but in more and more cases from now on, you’re going to have to lump it. Believe it or not, my time is in fact becoming increasingly short, and this is a good thing. If after ten years back in the Homeland I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs and I had the time to engage in long, personal e-mail debates with total strangers, that would be a bad sign.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iron in the soul before iron in the hands.

You're right, we all know the score by now. No need for letters. Conversation is good but at some point becomes an excuse.

Thanks for the emails of mine that you have answered, Harold.


7:03 PM  

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