I beg your indulgence, perhaps for the last time.

I was in the supermarket the other day, marveling at the rising price of RC Cola, when I heard an old but familiar song come over the PA. It took me a minute to place it, but it turned out to be Only Sixteen, a 1959 release by Sam Cooke. I thought the simple words, sung in his marvelously soulful voice, were strangely poignant (and in the real sense of the French word poignard--like a knife to the heart). He, at seventeen, is singing about his 16-year-old love, who cannot possibly return his affection. He sings, over and over, "But she was too young to fall in love, and I was too young to know."

I stopped in the middle of the aisle and thought to myself, "Man, they just don't write songs like they did in the 50s." On one level, this is true; but the fact is that America of the 1950s produced a great many really bad and/or strange songs (an odd number of them involving dead boy- or girlfriends, though personally I am partial to The Leader of the Pack). No matter where you look in time, the good songs are always vastly outnumbered by the bad ones.

This, in a nutshell, is the sort of problem I am having with E2. And I don't think I can deal with it any longer.

The thing is that, for me anyway, involving myself in E2 has become an effort. I log in, see some ridiculous thing in the New Writeups nodelet, and feel compelled to do something about it. I have wasted a good amount of time debunking things that are themselves nearly self-refuting. But every now and again, you find a writeup that is well written, insightful, well researched, or (gasp!) a combination of these, and then you think your time here has been well spent. These moments are, to use Billy Bragg's phraseology, far and few between. More lately than at other times, but this may well reflect my mood.

And I have not, as many of you have, formed close relationships with many users. A good friend of mine, Taltos, has been more or less hounded from E2 by a diffused form of XP Pack Rape, and a Muslim whom I had been strenuously but well-naturedly arguing with was supercursed (with some justification, it seems) and fled. And I have had meaningful short-term interactions with a good many users, but not enough to sustain my long-term interest. Some of this is my own nature peeking through, but what's done is done.

But in the end, I think the crux of the matter is that E2 no longer provides the spark needed to bring out my best work. I joined the E2 Prose Writers Group in the hopes this would reverse the trend, but the promising project now seems stillborn. I have concluded that I will be better off working on my own than submitting my work for a review that is too often anything but critical.

Yet my work has done well. My median rep as of today is 7, which I think kicks relative ass. I have received in the realm of 129 C!s, spread over a corpus of 324 writeups (not counting this one). My top writeup sits now at 77, thanks to the estimable donfreenut's lead WU being featured on the famous poster.

But this has, in the main, ceased to have any real meaning for me. And my major project, Rook's Wine Reviews, seems to have a polarizing effect on people. Am I noding for numbers, as many people have implied? Since I have been at level 5 for eight months, I don't think I can be accused of that. But again, while I think the project has value, the fun seems to be gone from it: for every rave I get--and there have been many nice ones--I get substantial flak from someone else. Well, I will go on drinking my wine regardless. And yet, whenever I have a bit of Petite Sirah, I will have to think of dem bones (I have bolded he who is most deserving of the formatting).

So I will go, but I will not flee. I will leave my work here, as I always intended; I will leave my account open; and I may peek in from time to time out of curiosity. But I cannot linger in this place. I mean no disrespect, but I just don't seem to belong here anymore. I will depart from the havens and sail into the West.

Before I go I will say this one thing: many people here have the courage of their convictions, speaking passionately in favor of the things in which they believe. This is good. Yet is it not a more difficult thing, as Nietzsche believed, to have the courage to challenge your convictions? This is too seldom done, not just on Everything, but everywhere.

So I bid a fond adieu to you all. I would like to thank Wharfinger for helping me in the early days, Sylvar for words of encouragement and challenge, the above-mentioned dem bones, my fact-hero Uberfetus, jaubertmoniker for doing me a particular kindness long ago, and the many others with whose paths I have crossed. Enjoy yourselves, one and all! But I am weary, and I cannot yet see the end of it.