Saturday, 22 March 2008

Vacation is not the same thing as holiday

It's the vacation, which is great, because I'm very tired from term and also I have a ton of writing to do - I have to finish the Derrida chapter by 31 March which is really quite soon now. (I get really defensive about the status of 'holidays' for academics, as you can see - on the one hand, it makes such a difference to be off the treadmill of term, teaching-preparing-marking-chasing-students-doing-admin, but on the other hand, it's not like I get to lie around playing Tombraider and knitting for the next five weeks, alas, and actually writing an 8,000-word book chapter on Derrida and Plato is a LITTLE BIT like work, y/y?)

Term finished for me on Wednesday, after a really intense but great couple of days. On Monday I was invited by the brilliant and lovely Angela Piccini and Jo Carruthers - who are lecturers/research fellows at Bristol attached to the Performativity | Place | Space theme - to be the discussant at this symposium, where I saw some amazing photos (Clare Thornton), heard some amazing sound installations (Jem Noble), and scored some academic references to polytheism and enchantment as modes of being in space (from Iain Biggs). Then John Mowitt (John Mowitt!) came to give a lecture, followed by a two-hour session for responses and discussion on the Tuesday morning, all of which was not only awesome but also sparked a bunch of thoughts and conversations among a series of people, including a new friend from the Classics department who's thinking of writing on Heidegger, Dasein, radio and the Eucharist (which, I think we can all agree, is an awesome set of connections to be making) . Also, my ex-supervisor, Barbara Engh, came along, and it's always a treat to see her. This was all part of this research project - 'Word Unbecoming Flesh: Beyond Text, Across Media' - which I'm heading up at Bristol: there are going to be six workshops over the next eighteen months or so, all dealing with questions about textuality and archivization (how do different recording/information technologies affect the ways we think about memory, information, technology and embodiment)? The discussions about radio were an excellent way to start, because they link us straight into the big questions (it's impossible to theorize radio without thinking about National Socialism, for example, as well as the infamous 'War of the Worlds' broadcast in the States - John delivered an excellent riff on the way that [the fantasy of] radio hooks up the body to an outside, to a foreign body, both inducing and managing mass hysteria/panic).

On Wednesday I helped out at an Open Day in the Classics department, and then my best friend Helen, who's studying to be a barrister, arrived for a visit - we talked and talked and ate delicious food from our local delis and set the world to rights (feminism! kids today! racism! babies! literature! sentencing guidelines for judges! pedagogy! the true meaning of academic grades! the personal tutoring system! queer theory and the death drive! omg we're all in our thirties now!)

And now it's Easter weekend, and as usual J and I are taking full advantage of the Christian holiday to hole up and write. Well, J is sick, so she's in bed with a big pile of dreadful books, but I'm going to spend today and the next couple of days working on 'In Loco Parentis', a big fanfic story I've been writing for a quite preposterous number of years now. It's harder than I expected getting back into it - I've made so many false starts on this section, and I get so little time to work on it that I get all wound up about having to get it right this time because there isn't time for any more mistakes (my computer tells me that I worked on it for one day at Christmas, and before that hadn't touched it since August).


Charlie said...

"Performativities of Emptinesss" - why, that could be the Severn Beach town motto! (Have you see the Severn Beach T-shirt? I'll try to remember to wear it when we meet next week.)

I see that Jane Bennett was name-checked there - do you know her work? I read it a while ago, and while I think a lot of it went over my head (you need to have read Max Weber to know what she's writing against) I found it curiously stimulating...


Ika said...

I have indeed seen the Severn Beach t-shirt - it was a background visual in my head for much of the symposium, actually!

Jane Bennett is one of the references Iain Biggs gave me on enchantment and polytheism - so I haven't read her, but I will soon, I hope. (I haven't read Weber, though, so I wonder what I'll make of it?)