If Nobody Hears You Do You Make A Sound?
A real question for the outsider intellectual is whether you’re making any sound if nobody hears you. In my blog I catalogue outsider intellectuals who in spite of their exclusion from the academic mainstream have published books and acquired a following, however small or marginal. But the completely marginalised can’t be documented because nobody knows they’re there. To be officially an outsider you have to at least have a foot in the door.
There’s a satisfaction in making an elegant object whether in the plastic arts or in the form of words and arguments. Most of the time you know when you’ve done it, although myself I tend to vacillate between being hyper aware of the flaws that exist in any argument, along with imaginings of what kind of dogpiling would greet its publication; and a confidence that my argument holds together and can be appreciated by friendly readers.
When you make something you feel is of value and send it out multiple times into the unanswering void, that void echoes in your heart, or at least in mine. I spend too much time contemplating this when I could be being productive. In those times of self-doubt I ask myself am I willfully idiosyncratic? A senior colleague once warned me against writing things that were inaccrochable, that couldn’t be hooked onto any of the available categories in the publishing world.
I don’t know the answer. I have tried to be relevant without being a hack stringing together available memes to give the appearance that I’m engaging in thought. However, the purpose of being a writer for me is to give voice to what I have to say. I don’t say things in order to be a writer, or at least I don’t think I do. I suspect I’d be more successful if I did.
And if you’re unsuccessful for twenty years is it time to give up and do something else? I’ve tried that and I always end up alone in a room doing this again.