Nudging Your Way to Oblivion

05/20/2015 01:51 pm ET | Updated May 19, 2016


What to do about those unanswered e mails? Listening to speakers like Deepak Chopra or TED talks and believing in the beneficence and generosity of the universe, you decide one bright spring morning to come out of your cocoon and reveal your desires. You're going to go after it. You think about all the people who you have been afraid to engage, those who have something you want or who you think would want something you have and make a list. You then start to send missives. If you're a writer, you may decide that this right time to send that poem or short story to The New Yorker, Tin House or The Paris Review. If you're a painter you start thinking about Larry Gagosian or Mary Boone. If your a gadget maker you remember the George Foreman ad for InventHelp. The roulette wheel is spinning. Maybe it will be your lucky day. Before the advent of the internet, the manila envelope with its SASE was the proxy for your hopes. Now everything is faster. You hit a button and your attachment is released into posterity. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo was the name of a famous war film. It takes less than a second to release your precious cargo, but days, weeks, months pass without so much as a response. You may even have had a distant connection to the editor or art dealer who is a college buddy of your internist. The least you expect is a cordial rejection. It doesn't take much to thank you and wish you luck in placing your work elsewhere. Yet nothing arrives. Talk about justifiable anger. You try to think up the exact right follow up. If you act like the editor doesn't remember your original e mail and your shared acquaintance, you're being insulting, Yet there's a distinct possibility he or she doesn't know you from Adam. And what to say? Of course you realize that the person you're writing to is beleaguered by petitioners. You understand their predicament and don't want to rush them. Just get back to me within my lifetime is the kind of thing you want to say, but you realize that you may be regarded like Uriah Heep, with your unctuousness only covering up your obvious rage at being dismissed or forgotten. You decide to be as matter-of-fact as possible. You send an e mail which just asks about the status of the short story, poem, art work or invention. You wait one, two, three days, one, two, three weeks and still no response. Maybe now it's time to copy and sent the same e mail as if it weren't sent before. You think of a cluster bomb in which you will mail the same e mail every day for a month. But then you realize you will be regarded as a total nut case, a stalker who may be feared but whose work will not be taken seriously. You will have blown your opportunity entirely. There are only two things left to do 1) pray 2) look on the whole experience as an opportunity for spiritual growth. Rather than feeling despondent at having all your hopes dashed, begin to look at it as a privilege which will open up new worlds of ego-deflation.

(This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary art, politics and culture}