On the Possible Shamness of Academic Conferences


Two hours earlier, I presented a paper called “On the Possible Shamness of Academic Conferences” in the beautiful, exoticized islands of the Philippines. I arrived at the conference just hours before the start of the program and after watching all the carbon emissions from the airplane I rode in going here (the experience reminded me of this. I am from the unknown island of Untied Dingcome.

Just after my presentation, I thought of the possible shamness of academic conferences, precisely the title of my paper. Before finally deciding to attend this conference, I had to think not twice but tries—that is, for grammatical purposes, I had to try to swallow my heart and think about the event as an opportunity to meet and listen to people, see a new place, secure a prestigious certificate, taste exotic food and pray that really meaningful conversations will transpire.

I guess I was rattled inside. This is when I resorted to reviewing encouraging messages from my senior classmates. These encouraging messages, ironically, talk about academic conferences in not-so-encouraging terms. That is what made these reminders lovely and spiriting for me!

(One described “a lot of [conferences as] sham” while another is more particularly indicting, using words like “self-serving academics” to refer to the london pips)

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Empty Chairs

 

I listened intently when Baniel Dell presented his paper about the “end of ideology.” I exerted the same effort when Boland Rats argued that “there is nothing outside the text.” I tried to engage both but failed all the same. I was raising my hand to be able to ask Dell but the moderator did not pick me out of the several souls wishing to inquire about Mr. Dell’s recent occupations or his alliance with this or that intellectual heartthrob. I thought I still had a chance but time run out as another person went at length to discuss about his own project and how this conforms to Mr. Dell’s propositions. It took no less than twenty minutes for this person to consummate his very wise, very helpful, very selfless interjection!

I tried to accost Mr. Rats after his talk but the swarm of people similarly trying to chat with him made me balk. What weakling I was! My patience has run out when Fransic Yukufama exceeded his time for an entire hour just to pronounce the end of history! I left the room after hearing the first question: What do you mean exactly by the end of history?

My favorite parts of the program were Racques Janciere detailing the distribution of the sensible, Tsao te Mung’s philosophical propositions about contradictions and Balain Adiou’s summary but lucid presentation about communism as Event. I am not ashamed to hint at  these predilections! I was giddy when I shared the comfort room with Tsao for twelve effing seconds. I was ecstatic when Adiou was six people away from me in the long queue for the lunch buffet!

But most honestly, my favorite was meeting old friends and talking to them about the shamness and potentials of that conference, careers, activism, love lives and sex lives, their current reading list, the weather and the trolls in the Philippines, how was the first year of Duterte, the President here, all over bottles of beer, all without time constraints, all without the need to use academic jargon and mostly with the intention to criticize and solidify the other’s views.

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