Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

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Presence

I got back a little while ago from a delightful couple of hours of talking to elizabeg, songsiheard, and SO, who joined us in the lobby of the Hotel Congress. After SO had headed home, the rest of us walked over to The Grill to wait interminably for service while we continued our chat. It's odd, though, how the knowledge of our respective journals shapes the conversation. Although I'm happy to hear a good story more than once, I still get the feeling that there's an obligation to provide new content when you're talking face to face. I become self-conscious whenever I realize that I'm touching on a topic already covered here. On the other hand, the memory banks make it easier to make dramatic leaps in the conversation. The presence of this background -- enhanced, to be sure, with the residue of previous face-to-face talks -- inspires regular "meta" moments in which a topic already rehearsed on one of our blogs gets revisited at a different level. What would probably seem to a non-reader like a break in the conversation actually turns out to be the point where the relationship between in-person and online exchanges are most forcefully articulated. That's pretty cool. The strangest thing for me, however, is that, although the background is comprised largely of statements made in the public space of this forum, it feels like a family secret, something we know but try not to acknowledge. Were I going to the MLA as planned, I would now be in the air on my way to Newark. Maybe that's why I can't sleep.
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