If there’s one thing I’ve found difficult to explain, these last six years, it’s how much the news stops me.
I read about the attack in London and reach for my loved ones and see the Arabic name that will stand for violence for the next several news cycles, obliterating all the other names that have perpetrated violence in order to make violence and Islam synonymous. I read about the arrest of the Israeli Jewish man who called in dozens of bomb threats to synagogues in Canada and the US and wait for news cycles about Jewish Conspiracies, obliterating the terror those thousands of people were subjected to, the trauma they’ve lived and relived. I read the news and watch people react to the news and wait for more news wrought by reading the news, and I want to throw up, and I want a voice like thunder and a tongue to drown the throat of war, and my work stops.
My work is to read and to write. My work is to read, not only novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but these poisonous narratives that arise when no one does the work of reading. When no one asks questions of narratives, of themselves, of their reactions and premises. My work is, through writing, to read the world back to people who write it with their fear and their fury and hatred, to say, sometimes gently, is this what you meant, and to say, often less gently, this is what you’re saying, and what you’re saying is evil.
I’m off social media not because I want to ignore the world, but because I need to keep it at arm’s length so that I can engage with it at all. Because the alternative is to be stopped, always. To be paralysed by what rushes through me, electricity forcing me into remaining a closed circuit.
I’m not sure where to take that metaphor. But I am getting back to work.