Thursday, April 24, 2008

I am actually having a hard time with academic conferences at the moment. Seems to be so much unnecessary and expensive word-sparring in such a profoundly (discursively) de-politicized and actually overpoliticized climate at academic conferences. We are often so darn text-fixated and pedestal-fixated in academic life. Enough with the incomprehensible words and the status-jostling already, let's sit and hang out with people, and break bread, and challenge ourselves to be people of integrity and heart, and share ideas that respond to the challenge of 'so what?!' and 'why bother?', and let's do it where we are located first and foremost before spending all this money on travel, and all that time talking at people rather than with them, and hanging out in all these fancy hotels that reinforce all the cliches of the ivory tower. Healthy relationships and communication and heartwork happen at the margins of conferences, of course, but to champion conferences as they tend to happen is not normally to champion heartspaces. There's always room for spectacle and performance, despite what we tend to experience at academic conferences, but if we're going to perform, let's do it con brio, embrace the theatricality rather than anchor our eyes to the written word. But let's not make audacious performance be most of what we do. How hard is to just be more present with people?

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