I think the fact that I notice it so intensely means that my life, generally, is not calm enough for me. Some people seem happy with frequent strife. I think I am not one of them. Benjamin and I were talking once about what I like to do, and he said I really wanted to be a public intellectual.
Which is, I think, true to some extent. I like writing carefully thought-out arguments on challenging topics. I even like reasoned debate on those topics. But even that, I find draining. I can do it, and I find it worthwhile, but I need long respite between times.
And I really can't cope with the kind of discussion you find in most internet comment sections. Not at all, not even a little bit. I watch some writers I know engage productively with that, or at least keep their calm, not letting it get to them, and I know this -- that is not me.
It all makes me a little sad. Even among my friends, I find that a lot of them want to have a lot of social justice conversations when they get together in person -- it's a big thing in SF/F right now, and overdue, and it's good that they're having it. It's really good -- thank god we're having these conversations, finally. We seem to be hitting some sort of critical mass.
But I find that I am really tired of them. My timing is awful. I've been having those conversations at an escalating pace for years, and now, when I get together with my SF/F writer friends, I want to talk writing, or books, or how their kids are doing, or if the day job is driving them nuts
Kevin and I just got intonot an argument, exactly, but something of a debate about Salaita and this whole academic freedom mess at UIUC. And I find it so frustrating, and so exhausting. I like talking to him about complicated political / ethical issues normally, but right now, I think I'm just too burned out. I don't want conflict at home.
No real conclusions here. Justexpression of exhaustion, of frustration. I'm not leaving this work entirely -- there will be political panels at Kriti, and I'm editing the next volume of the WisCon Chronicles. But after that, I think a long break. I'm going to try to focus on writing my SF novel, and if I have political views, they're mostly going to show up in the background of the fiction.
Someday I'll hopefully go back to my memoir, which has some explicit political elements. I might even write that Sri Lankan war novel that has been floating around in my head for a decade or so now.
But for the moment, if a political conversation breaks out, and I go quiet, or even pull out my knitting -- it isn't that I object to the conversation, which probably needs to happen. And it certainly doesn't mean that I don't like you. I justneed to give myself a rest. I'm trying to figure out how best to do that.