This weekend I gave a panel about science, science fiction, and poetry with my newest poet buddy. We went back and forth, each of us reading a poem and then the other. This is a surprising form for two people who had not met each other before planning this panel, but it worked. Our poems spoke to each other in weird and interesting ways, and by the end I felt as if we had done something immense together. Our audience may not have felt this way, but I don’t really care.
We talked about how there is stigma about all three of these subjects. Strangers are liable to tell you they hate any of those fields without being seen as rude, or anyway, in the writing world I’ve had people say all of those things to me. But we fucking embraced them, embraced what we knew and what we didn’t know. Fuck my early morning chemistry class, which was hell on earth when I was 16 years old. Now that I’m forty-nothing, I’ve read Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table, where chemistry is made beautiful. I’ve moved beyond my high school trauma.
But so many people don’t intellectually speaking. They take their eleven-year-old self’s fear of being seen as different and they apologize for liking Star Trek. These rigid categories play out on a nationalist stage. You’re either with us or against us. You either accept us completely or not at all. Nuance is dead.
I do not want to impinge on anyone’s personal grief. But nationalism is one of the most dangerous political forces I see. Do we remember Bush Jr. trying to justify his attack on Iraq by saying, “They tried to kill my dad”? A president risks his life, unfortunately. If I could bomb anyone for slights or threats in the line of my professional life, there would be not a lot standing.
Going back to my wretched manuscript, I have a frame now. My frame is wrapped up in geekery. And I don’t fucking care. It’s my landscape, and I’m claiming it. But personally speaking and not nationalistically. Fuck. I’m going back to revision. I’m no good at politics.
What do you embrace?