The Worst Sound is the Silence

I used to write about atheism, until I said everything I needed to say about it. Anything I write about it now would repeat my own past words. I’m just as unimpressed with the tangle of sometimes consciously illogical and impossible things religions expect people who take them seriously to believe; I am just as uninterested in community that comes bundled with authority figures; I am just as convinced that the wonder of nature does not require a magical guiding hand to explain or enjoy; and I’ve already said all those things. Saying them again is, at best, a game with search engine optimization. I’m bored of it. People still need those messages, but I’ve already written them.

Trans issues are another topic of my attention. They’re personally relevant and reliably grim. The right wings of the world have declared people like me their new favorite target, less foreign than immigrants and more lurid than mere gays, and there’s always another news story about a court case, horrific law, or deadly violence. It’s a beat that never runs out of stories, a blogger’s dream. But I’m not a legal reporter, not a gender scholar, not even a consistent observer of either. All I would be doing, all I could ever be doing, is parroting the work of other people who are already doing it better than I ever could. Past information, past passion, past viewpoint, all I find in myself is seething rage and dejected resignation. I vacillate between anger that things are the way they are and despair that they’ll ever be better, without even the hope of a grander narrative to hold all the horrors together. What’s left after that is polemics I deliver as speeches to those who know the fire I can bring, and this blog has become their well-earned home.

Urbanism is a recent addition to my repertoire, and one where I sometimes find I have thoughts other people haven’t had already. Most of those thoughts, unfortunately, are a little too tied to where I live and shitty men with an axe to grind already have too many ways to find out where my home is. Maddeningly specific rants about individual streets, corridors, and trails will have to wait for safer days.

Geography and history lost me a long time ago. The welter of their complexity made the grand sweeps of events through time so much harder to appreciate. Recent events have changed my perspective on the sorts of subtopics I once found engaging. It’s dull and anxious now.

Participating in the internal discourses of any community I inhabit went from feeling like a civic duty, to feeling like blog research, to feeling like a chore, to feeling like a disease. I set that burden down and the world has been so much lighter, but so has my blog output.

I still have biology and its cousin aquarium-keeping. Finding stories in those fields that feel suited to the blog format is tricky, but it’s at least occasionally doable. It’s still something other people are definitely doing better than I have time to attempt, especially Ze Frank, but I am at least passionate enough about it to do it anyway. But even my usual level of examination is more energy than I can give this topic a lot of the time, especially when my day job sometimes requisitions those thoughts and often draws from the same energy. It’s been a long time since I was energized enough to try to put together biology presentations for my friends.

Fiction is a passion that will never leave me, but of all these it takes the most inspiration, the greatest emotional toll, and the most substantial abandonment of greater hopes. Fiction has been the most consistent kind of writing I could sell, once science writing became my day job, and using it as blog content means abandoning the hope of selling it. There is too much out there for this level of self-published work to get the light of day unless it becomes wildly, improbably popular. It has happened to others, but I have no illusion that it will happen to me.

I can still post the occasional recipe, once I change something enough that it’s not simply a duplicate of whatever recipe I consulted. It takes time and effort to try new recipes and develop them enough to be worth immortalizing in bits, but it’s something I enjoy, so I have that going for me.

Other life obligations sink their demands into me like serrated teeth: a novel that has been languishing in editorial hell, the hope of digitizing the trove of VHS cassettes my parents brought from Miami, maintaining a social life, grocery shopping, participating in literally any leisure pursuit I haven’t already monetized, pet care, on and on. All of these eat away at the energy I can put toward finding a topic to write about, let alone actually writing it. I keep up with my Patreon obligations because that’s what they are: obligations, linked to specific paying tiers and owed to the people paying for them. After that…I don’t know anymore.

I look at that long list of ways that my previous foci ceased to hold me or became more trouble than they were worth, and I wonder what the future of the Perfumed Void could be. I don’t know. Most of the things I ever wanted this blog to be have stopped holding any value for me and others aren’t possible or practical. I don’t know anymore.

So here’s to 2024, I suppose. Perhaps inspiration will find me then.

A large crab looking sad captioned "Hello all you happy people."

The Worst Sound is the Silence