I have two more books to write and publish, but, save for fringes around the edges here and there, whatever kind of “public life” I previously had is over.
And has been for decades, as I have realized the whole while.
That has been the question to myself in recent years.
It has been established over a period of half a lifetime that no one values (least of all is willing to pay me for) my knowledge and connoisseurship. I am the only or last man standing with the kind of knowledge I have, in well more than a few fields of expertise. It has been clear for years that seemingly everyone is willing to jettison my expertise, and just let all of it die with me.
If there was a breaking point, James Craig of Apple unhesitatingly and with intent placed the final straw. James was in town for a Web-standards meeting to which I was not invited. He took me to late lunch before heading off to the airport.
It was quite a cold Saturday afternoon –
– and, across the table, James told me in these precise words that I would never work at Apple. I – I – have to be able to get along with people.
I at no time wished to work at Apple. James was gratuitously precluding an option I had never wanted. I do, however, have a mental image of myself in some Cupertino cube farm getting asked to help out with something. “I can’t,” I yell back as I scoot my Æron chair into view. “I’m still trying to unfuck the Estonian.”
Kazakh and Bulgarian are supported languages, but Estonian never will be. That was an anecdote from a future that could never happen. James Craig told me I could never have it. It’s been a common enough sentiment:
“This guy is the third rail of accessible media. He is a self-described expert... highly critical. He does not represent any business and only can cause us grief”
– Jim Ballard, Deluxe (“I’ll keep him at arm’s length”)
“I can’t pretend to understand the mind of Joe Clark”
– Larry Goldberg, WGBH
Then there was the pipsqueak who disinvited me from a conference. Then, moreover, there was the beloved local columnist – friend to all, and the feeling is mutual – who cheerfully confirmed the outright omertà against hiring me for any journalistic enterprise.
Very well. I shall not work at Apple. Nor anywhere else, save as an author twice more over.
I will not go full Mark Pilgrim, but to whatever extent “you” came to expect further work from me, understand that there will be scarcely any or none. Of course I feel that “you” have variously betrayed or abandoned or renounced me in the first place. Broadly, the response to that sentiment has been “That’s the least you deserve.”
I am obliged to forgive my enemies. (Quite the list there.) James’s boss Joswiak was not interested in acknowledging any of this ever happened. And every time I think of James Craig, I also think of his beloved Italian greyhound – calling to mind St. Dominic’s.
But I will live the rest of my days as if a recluse. I’ve already stated here what I wish and plan to do, but even those are deviations from what had been my life’s work all this time: To be a loyal servant of God.
I am tired of being hated everywhere I go. I will not be hated there.