Après l’éclipse: Sisyphus goes on strike
22 July 2009 6 Comments
Whatever I expected from the solar eclipse, I didn’t expect this.
I have been putting off the revision of an article for weeks. It is due to the journal at the end of the month. As I opened it on my computer this afternoon and began to type a few lines in response to the reviewers’ comments, it came to me in a flash — I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to subject the originality of my ideas to the banality of the review process, and I am not saying this out of over-inflated arrogance. In academia, my work tends to polarise opinion. Reviewers often praise or slam the work with equal vehemence, often both at the same time. It is something I will need to deal with more productively in the future, but this article wasn’t it.
Given that time and energy are finite, I have other projects in the pipeline with a greater chance of seeing light of day, not least of which is my own book. I have been putting the manuscript on the back burner for a long time, waiting for all the piddling little unfinished articles and duties to be finished before I got to it. But I finally realised today, that priority must go to what’s my own. By their very nature, piddling unfinished duties will always be there to be dealt with; complete one and another slides in quickly to take its place, while I wait in vain for the substantial period of ‘free’ time to open up. Sheer wishful thinking. It is true that I am loathe to leave projects uncompleted, but I must also learn that sometimes it is more productive to give up, and that giving up is quite different from giving in. Not easy for Saturn in the 6th house.
From the moment of realisation came a sense of relief. Suddenly my summer to-do list looks much more manageable. I have an edited book to finish, my own book to kickstart, a conference in September, classes to prepare for the new semester, and new research to conduct. One unfinished article isn’t going to be missed, not least by the journal who rejected it in the first place. I could push myself to revise it, then push them to accept it, but in the face of everything else, I just don’t have the time. Besides, stubborn insistence would just reflect my own need to be validated.
I’ve lived with Saturn at my back for so long (Sun conjunct Saturn, Moon in Capricorn, and transiting Saturn across my midheaven now), that I take the strain as a matter of course. I’ve written about Sisyphus as a metaphor for my life a number of times before (for the myth, see this article), but I don’t always realise that I can drop the rock, even if only for a short while.
Image: Sisifio (1548–49) by Tiziano Vecellio. Source: Wikimedia Commons.