[NetBehaviour] Old, Irrelevant, Not Dead Yet, Read My Life

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Jan 9 02:48:29 CET 2019

Old, Irrelevant, Not Dead Yet, Read My Life


I'm old, I'm not dying. But I might as well be as far as new
media or cultural work are concerned. Every day I have to prove
my relevance, that I still have something to say in one or
another medium, that it's worth looking at what I do even now. I
write begging letters; most of them go unanswered. I've stopped
applying for jobs; no one would even think of hiring me, even on
a part-time basis. A sign for me, that my Wikipedia page ends
five years ago. Someone I met was surprised I was still alive.

We old people are treated as if we're already dead, as if the
only contribution we can make now is in buying useless medical
supplements to keep the economy going. I'm treated as a nuisance
and I am a nuisance. If I stop writing people, whatever weak
plans might have been made immediately disappear. I have
tremendous anger over this but I'm not allowed to express it.
I'm supposed to stay in my place, age gracefully, and fucking

I know how good I am - with text, with music, with video. But
that knowledge stays with me and dies with me. I have a few
followers online, but that doesn't grow. At this point I have
problems keeping up with virtual work for example; we old and
doddering people with one foot in the grave just don't have the
money to spend on, say, vr systems; it's all I can do to keep
our older tech working.

I'm not alone in any of this. I know a lot of other people who
feel they're already in the dustbin. I don't sleep at night
thinking about these things. I keep thinking one more email will
change things, but nothing will change things. Look at me: I'm
fucking old. You don't think I have anything to say. You look
right through me. You're not even waiting for me to die. For you
I'm dead already.

To be treated like you're in the dustbin puts you in the dustbin.

No grants, almost no shows, and people who meet me immediately
see an old person. They see right through me. They know it
doesn't matter what I do. They'll be where I am of course and
they'll feel the same thing and I feel for them. But I wake up
in the middle of the night, and think, this is what I keep
working for? My art/music/texts/media which seem increasing gone
before they've even started?

You are killing me, you are killing us. I beg you, if you make
plans with me, follow through. I have no other options. After a
while I throw everything out. Then I start again. And too many
of us talk about suicide and then do it.

Which is not to fear me, us, them, you, of any age, But to treat
us, them, you equally, and of equal potency in the world. And to
fight of anything less, anything otherwise. If the world is for
the living and the hopeful kindness we may be among each other,
then we must behave that way.

Institutions bolster old people, keep them going. Professors
emeritus help; festschrifts help; followers help; families help
or hinder, younger students help; established careers have a way
of continuing maybe even beyond the grave. But for those of us
who don't have these things, there's nothing. I must say that
I'm incredibly lucky in one way, to be with Azure. She saves my
life, she is my life. That and my work. And unlike my work she
is visible, and she cares and that's amazing, every day, to me.
And she gives me the time and space and inspiration to work, to
keep on going. And it's a true inspiration.

But outside of the home, I'm not there. I'm not at the college
up the hill, I'm not at the design school downtown; these doors
are closed to me. I'm not invited to play at any of the clubs or
festivals here (and yes, I've tried and been); no one wants to
hear an old man playing. In spite of the music. Which is not
listened to. Or to hear an old man performing. In spite of my
virtual world work. Or anything at all. Check the Wikipedia
page: I'm already dead.

And this will happen to you as I say above, but that's so
obvious a response that it's completely meaningless. And knowing
that, my self-doubt, self-negation, self-hatred rises all
through the the long long night, and wakes me. And then the
hatred really takes over. And it will.

Every begging letter, every text like this one, eats me alive.

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