The Big Chill

August 3, 2007 at 3:42 am (Uncategorized)

You know, I’m starting to realise that the one thing – possibly the only thing – that is guaranteed to drive me absolutely spare is being ignored or unacknowledged. Nothing makes me obsess more than dead silence across the canyon, when not even the sound of my own echo comes back to me.

Let’s look at some recent examples, some of which, as if to prove my own point, I’ve blogged about before. There are the friends who ignore emails, letters, and invitations. Not exactly so very friendly, you might note, and I’d be inclined to agree with you. But rather than simply accept the fact that they don’t feel the same way about me as I do about them, I harbour all sorts of obsessive, anxious thoughts about them. I try again. I get increasingly upset when my efforts again go unacknowledged. I berate myself. I get hurt all over again. Meanwhile, these people are not giving me a second thought, and would probably find it wholly bizarre and sort of psychotic to learn how much time and energy I have invested in dissecting their failure to respond. I give myself the creeps sometimes with this stuff, so I couldn’t blame anyone else for feeling the same way.

I don’t know why I do it, but I’d really like to learn how to stop. There are just so many instances of my refusing to let it go. I’m like a terrier with a spittle-soaked toy. Grrrr. Grrr. Grrr. Thwacking my toy against the kitchen floor for hours – literally hours – at a time with no sign of ever tiring of the game. It’s so idiot savant-like.

So. Let’s get the worst offenders out in the open. Ann never, ever acknowledged receiving an invitation to my wedding. This makes me burn. I’ve always known she’s not pen-pal material, but it’s not like she’s illiterate. It is just not that hard to send a note. I marvel to this day: “Still not a word,” I say to myself, “not one.” Incredible. Max blew me off years ago, and he’s another one I have been reluctant to let go. Poor guy – he must find my occasional missives really disturbing. What does possess me, every few years, to send one off? Well, this is my theory: I can’t stand the void. I can’t let it go when I’m completely ignored. Things would have been much easier had he done exactly what Angel did, which was send me a most brutal email that left me in no doubt as to her disinclination to keep up a correspondence/long distance friendship with me. She actually did me a huge favour, although it didn’t feel like it at the time and I doubt it’s what she intended. But I’ve never had to obsess about what happened or why she didn’t like me well enough – she made it all perfectly clear. Phew! Such a relief to know!

Then there’s DeLillo, not acknowledging receipt of my thesis. That total silence mocks me on a regular basis. Truly. I think about it at least a few times a week. Is it a form of madness? I wonder. “Why won’t he say something?” I whine to my own inner ear. “Anything??” Thwack. Thwack goes the toy.

And of course there’s the agency, and the publications that never write back, not even to reject me, and all sorts of other opportunities for dead silence down the line. For me, it’s a form of slow and painful, largely self-inflicted torture. I truly understand that exile as a punishment in the ancient world, being rendered invisible by your fellows, is a fate more damning than any other I can possibly imagine. It would drive me insane. Mercifully, just as I was starting this post, stewing in his morning’s silence after a minor marital hiccup, Llew called, and I dropped my sodden toy on my way to pick up the phone.



  1. Tim said,

    Hi Di,

    Don’t worry about DDL. Heroes never write back, and also, you know what he is like in interviews: it’s almost as if the interviewer has to prise the words out of his mouth with a pair of pliers. And he’s reclusive anyway, and he’s weird. I’m sure he read the thesis, or at least the intro of it, and smiled a little twisted ‘acknowledgement’ grin to himself. Which might mean something, but I don’t imagine he’s capable of smiling any other way.


  2. Steve said,

    Ditto to Tim’s email, with the friendly amendment that it is equally likely that the parcel was sucked off into lackey land – I am not sure DDL is sorting his own mail. Not that this should necessarily make you feel better, but better to be ignored out of ignorance 😉

  3. doctordi said,

    Did anyone else read Caro Llewellyn what’s-her-name’s journal of the PEN festival in New York? DeLillo was one of the big coups of the program, but he turned up minus his voice… I’m sure it was a legitimate illness, and he apparently recovered in time to speak as planned, but part of me had this delicious feeling that he was just playing mute for a while, just to wreak some havoc. That’s certainly a perverse, DeLillo kind of chaos (the wild man). I always get the feeling he’s totally in control, even when he’s infirm. I can imagine him willing his voice back, but only because he decided at a certain point to cooperate.

    Thanks, fellas, I daresay you’re both right, and I know it doesn’t even matter in the end. I’ll still be a fan, and he’ll still be a hero.

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