January 26, 2007

Worth It, Or Not?

[Please see the Update at the end.]

I'll tell you the simple truth: the major reason I continue blogging is that I don't want to die.

That's it. That's the whole thing.

It's not because a substantial number of readers understand and agree with my major themes. They don't. It's not because I think my blogging will prevent the numerous catastrophes that will almost certainly overtake us in the coming decades. It won't. I may be guilty of many faults, but a stupidly overinflated sense of my own importance is not one of them. Yet I still believe that it actually matters that we speak the full truth as we see it, no matter how many people it displeases. I truly am an idiot.

But I don't want to die. That's my reason in its entirety. Note that I referred to "blogging," not "writing." Whatever happens, I'll continue writing as long as I can, but I may not publish most of it. I probably won't even be able to. At the moment, I only continue blogging because I don't want to die.

I've mentioned these facts before, but let's briefly review. My very bad health prevents me from working at a "regular" job. Blogging is about all I'm capable of now, but blogging of the kind I do takes an enormous amount of effort. Usually, after two or three days of blogging, I have to rest for a day or two. That's how much it tires me. My body simply isn't capable of sustained effort for longer than a few days at a time.

I realize that most of you don't understand exactly how I live. I'll give you a few details, which should provide sufficient indication.

Item: I have never been able to pay for a cable/high speed internet connection. I still have to use dialup. It's all I can afford.

Item: I haven't had television for more than four years. I have a television set, which I use to look at DVDs and videos. But I can't get over the air reception where I live, and I can't possibly afford cable or satellite service. So I'm completely cut off from TV news coverage, current television series (until they hit Netflix, one of the few "luxuries" I permit myself), and the like. In many ways, I'm cut off from the world, and our culture. For someone who tries to write about politics and general cultural issues, this puts me at a considerable disadvantage, to understate the problem rather dramatically.

Item: I deeply appreciate the donations from those who responded to the plea at the end of this post last week. In view of the fact that I was almost completely broke when I posted that entry, once I pay my February rent, I will be almost completely broke once again. I'll be able to eat for a week or two, and that's it.

Item: Because my feet swell up fairly regularly (just one of many symptoms for which I've started taking several medications, which unfortunately are causing further problems that we're now trying to work out), I usually can only wear sneakers. The sneakers I wear were purchased in 1994, and they are about to fall apart completely. I can't afford to buy new ones.

Item: I can only afford the simplest of foods. Many of my meals are baked potatoes, with various (cheap) toppings. Often, I simply have a baked potato with butter, salt and pepper.

Item: I haven't eaten out in about four years. As someone who has spent much of his life devoted to opera and the theater, it is much more painful to note that I haven't been able to attend a live performance in any medium for over five years.

This will undoubtedly sound arrogant, but I honestly don't give a damn any longer. I know the quality of much of my writing. I would put my series, On Torture, up against anything any blogger has written in the last several years. I think Morality, Humanity and Civilization is outstanding. And there may be an essay superior in content and literary quality to "Thus the World Was Lost," but I haven't come across it. The same is true (to a somewhat lesser degree) of Lies in the Service of Evil. And I continue to see many positive references to Trapped in the Wrong Paradigm, but those reviews would not appear to have translated into support for my work.

My current series, Dominion Over the World, represents the synthesis of an enormous amount of reading and thinking, over several years. Yet comparatively few people have read it, or will ever read it. If I'm able, I plan to cover material in the continuation of another series, The Personal Factor, that I'm certain no other blogger will address. And there are still other series for which I have done some preliminary planning...but why do I bother?

Because I don't want to die.

If I stop blogging, I will have no income at all. I would be evicted within a couple of months and, since I have nowhere to go, I would almost certainly die in fairly short order. All things considered, I would prefer to avoid that. On the other hand, very few of you seem to care about what I write, or that I write at all. Fewer still seem to understand my writing to any significant degree. (That certainly is true of my Alice Miller essays. Almost no one understands those at all.)

So what am I supposed to do? I'm damned if I know. I'll tell you what: I'm putting the ball in your court. You let me know if I should continue blogging. Your response will tell me all I need to know, as will your silence.

I think that's enough for the moment. Depending on events, I may be back next week.

Oh, yes, one final point: this is entirely humiliating. But I told you: I don't want to die. Humiliation is a terrible price to pay, but ultimately a comparatively small one, if you choose to continue living. I can honestly say that I have been left with no alternative.

P.S. If you're wondering why I don't avail myself of various social welfare programs, there's one overwhelmingly simple reason why I can't (even if I wanted to), but it would take another post to explain why that is the case. For now, I will only say that I do not choose to support what I regard as a fundamentally and irrevocably corrupt system to any degree at all. If you're smart, you should be able to figure out what I mean. I may write about this issue in the future, in which case any mystification will be removed.

UPDATE: I'm astonished and overwhelmed by the response this has generated. The generosity of so many of you truly staggers me. Bless you, every one. I will be sending out individual thank you notes over the next week, but please bear with me if you don't receive one for at least several days. On the occasions when I feel I have no choice but to unburden myself this way, I always suffer an intense emotional backlash. It's a kind of spiritual hangover, and it's paralyzing in many ways.

I often write about the significance of cultural factors, and I discuss how all of us are deeply affected by the culture in which we live. I can tell myself how good I think my writing is a hundred times a day, but the fact remains that, by the standards accepted by most people today, I'm an utter failure. Detailing the scarcity in my life right now simply confirms that fact, and does so before the entire world. It's an enormously painful experience. It will pass, but it takes a little time. I also have the impression that other bloggers have brought attention to my plight. I offer my immense gratitude to them, too. My thanks can't be more specific right now, for the same reason: because I find all of this so painful, I can't bear to read what others might say about it. It just hurts too much.

I need to mention one practical concern, as well. For reasons too complicated to explain (and that are related to my cryptic postscript above), I worry about using the Amazon account too much. If you've already used it, there's no need for concern. But if at all possible, it's much better for me if you use Paypal. I'm sorry to be mysterious about this, but it would not be advisable for me to go into more detail at the moment. So if Paypal can work for you, please use that. It will be much safer (but again, please don't worry if you've already used Amazon). [I've temporarily removed the Amazon donation link. Too many of you are using it! :>)) That's the first time I've smiled in about a week. God, you people are wonderful. I'll restore it sometime tomorrow or Monday, but Paypal is much better for now. I emphasize that you needn't be at all concerned if you used Amazon, but I need to give it a rest for a day or two. I apologize again for being elusive about this, but I really can't say any more at the moment.]

[Sunday morning: I restored the Amazon link. Very sorry for any inconvenience, and for any puzzlement. "But," you wonder, "is it safe? Is it safe?" To which I reply, "Yes, it's safe, it's very safe, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it!" Really. My very grateful thanks to everyone, once again.]

In the next few days, I'll be able to buy some new sneakers, thanks to all of you. That's a very good example of the pain and sadness I'm feeling right now: it strikes me as incomprehensibly sad, pathetic really, that buying a pair of sneakers should become so momentous in my life. But given my circumstances, that's where I've been. I'm not sure about what other changes might be possible, but I'll figure that out in the next several days, and provide another update when things are clearer to me.

Meanwhile, I'll try to get back to blogging later today or tomorrow. I can't tell you what your response means to me. It has quite literally given me a new lease on life.

My gratitude is beyond words -- but I shall nonetheless try to find some in the next week.