There’s a back story to this, but it will have to wait.
Dear Chris Knowles,
Although you’ve indicated you’ve no desire for a dialogue, I will give it one last shot. I’m posting this publicly because your last email was in the form of a dismissal and it seems safer, somehow, to bare my soul in public, so to speak.
I’ve always respected you and your work, and more than that, had a lot of affection for you. Maybe it’s projection but there it is. Because of my own issues with my (late) brother, it’s hard for me not to feel competitive and/or defensive with other men, especially men I admire. One unfortunate result of this is that I tend to unconsciously provoke conflict with them, as if to test, or prove, my own existence.
That might seem like too much information, but the point is, to some degree I probably provoked your unreasonable behavior without intending to. I regret even the possibility that’s true and so naturally I want to make it right. Since I’ve no idea how to do that, all I can do is try to be frank and lay out the facts as I see them.
Fact 1: I envy the amount of attention your work gets and how you have over a thousand followers who seem to hang onto your every word, while I feel like I’m doing well, and I mean really well, if I get half a dozen comments in a week and at least know that a few people are even aware of what I’m doing. (Yes, I am insecure.)
Fact 2: I consider my latest project at crucialfictions.com to be vital and ground-breaking work that deserves to be taken seriously.
Fact 3: I wanted to get not only your own attention and approval with it, but that of your many followers also.
Fact 4: Your only response so far has been to tell me, implicitly, to take down the image at the site before you will even consider linking to it (even though I never asked you to link to it).
Fact 5: That hurt.
Fact 6: I responded, or reacted, to your attempt to control and direct (i.e., bully) me with a challenging email.
Fact 7: You took that as the end of our relationship, so far as there was one, and deleted my comments at your latest blog post, despite the fact that there was nothing overtly hostile or disruptive about them.
Fact 8: Rightly or wrongly, I’ve noticed a change in your communication style over the past few months and a move towards a more aggressive, macho, and bullying kind of persona.
Fact 9: Quite a few other people have, rightly or wrongly, come to the same conclusion, and have expressed concern, as well as experiencing discontent and I suspect hurt feelings, because of this.
Fact 10: You’ve started to defriend people who express points of view which you don’t agree with under the guise of trying to keep the group “reality-based.”
Fact 11: From what I have heard, from people closer to you than I am, you’ve managed to create an atmosphere in which people are afraid not only to challenge or confront you but to disagree with you at all.
So much for the facts. My own opinion is that you’re wrestling with some powerful inner demons and you have my every sympathy. I MEAN THIS SINCERELY. If I could help, I would. But instead I’ve managed to wind up (exactly as happened with my brother before he died) on the side of the demons in your eyes (or at best, as one of those nonsense-frothing fascist weasels who you disdain in your last post).
Fact 12: That sucks for me. I mean it really sucks.
Fact 13: We are both so much bigger than our differences.
If there’s any way to see past them, even for a few minutes, then I suggest we talk about what’s really going on. What you’ve communicated to me is that it doesn’t matter to you if I live or die, much less whether we have a relationship or not. Maybe I’m deluded, but I don’t believe that.
My brother used to say (in one of his many carefully scripted and impeccably delivered bon mots), “Nothing matters much, and very little matters at all.”
What does matter, and what I’ll stake my reputation on to defend, is kindness, compassion, sensitivity, and a willingness to be vulnerable and to show weakness with those we care about. This goes especially for guys, and especially, I think for guys like us.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. The ball’s in your court. You are on your own – unless you don’t want to be.