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Wirelessless - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Wirelessless
I'm typing this from the University of Louisville library, where I am somewhat illegally using the student technology lab, because I can't find any free wireless nodes in this town. My hotel doesn't even have a business center. And I hate paying for access when I only have few minutes anyway. I do like this place a lot, but haven't had a chance to explore yet. I need to revise my Joan Didion paper for tomorrow, making it more "talky" and less turned-in-itself. But that can wait until I'm really tired. For now I'm pondering what to eat and also wishing I could share my experience of yesterday's traveling with you, since I had great conversations on both flights.

Despite having a pillow-induced asthma attack this morning, I made it to the first morning session in time to see the impressively polished paper of the U of A graduate student who is here at the conference with me. He and I spent the better part of our free time talking to each other and also attended the same sessions, which was helpful, since it gave us more to talk about. The highlight for me was this afternoon's plenary session featuring Stanley Fish and Cary Wolfe, both of whom are excellent public speakers with a gift for making difficult points accessibly. Later, at the first-day reception, I noticed that Fish looks exactly like Darth Sidious:

This stopped me from going up to say "Hi" to him, along with the fact that I remembered that his wife was supposedly unhappy with something said at Julian Boyd's memorial service. You have to be careful with the dark side. But let me tell you, if you ever want someone to distill the philosophy of Immanuel Kant into one minute of clarity, Stanley's your man. And he's every bit the performer he was when I saw him back in the spring of 1990 while taking Steven Knapp's literary theory class, even without the Porsche Design sunglasses he sported that day in the Maude Fife Room.

I had one other noteworthy experience, ironic in light of the fact that I spent Monday revising and expanding my statement of teaching philosophy. As I sat with the U of A graduate student, I noticed a woman at the next table over who looked familiar. The closer I looked, the more distinctly I remembered her face. But I couldn't place her. I knew she wasn't a U of A person, but beyond that I was baffled. She smiled over at me, though, so I figured we had met. On her way out, she stopped by to say hello, graciously giving me her name right away. And then I knew her. She was one of the students in my English 50 class at UC Berkeley way back in the spring of 1999. "You were always talking about the Teletubbies," she cheerfully recalled. Now she's a graduate student in Philadelphia.

It's pretty neat to have a reminder of my pre-U of A teaching the same week that I just wrote about what I learned from those reading and composition days. That was a really fun class and the last one I taught at Berkeley outside of summer school. Even though the passage of time is obvious, she was still taken aback to realize that the three-month-old I was always talking about in February, 1999 is now a first-grader. Well, I better get out of here before there's no place left for me to eat dinner. It's already after 8pm here. See you tomorrow, however briefly. And don't hold it against me if I fail to reply in a timely fashion, because I may not be on the computer for 24 hours.

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Comments
masoo From: masoo Date: February 24th, 2006 02:35 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
"I remembered that his wife was supposedly unhappy with something said at Julian Boyd's memorial service."

Do tell!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 24th, 2006 10:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's what D.A. Miller said, unless I was mistaken. I thought he said that she took issue with the dis of Stanley Fish in one of the speeches. Relayed secondhand, that is. Or maybe I was just confused. . .
art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: February 24th, 2006 03:18 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's seeing former students really something? I mean, for myself, I find them that recognize me and say hello makes me think that I might have positively touched someone's life.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 24th, 2006 10:19 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It is. I was really psyched to know that this student ended up studying an area of literature that I introduced to her when she was a sophomore. I saw her talk today. It was good. And she came to mine, which was nice.
From: cut_dead Date: February 24th, 2006 03:57 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
What specifically is the Joan Didion paper on?
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: February 24th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I know! I know! She's amazing. I want more...
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 24th, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
See my comment above. . .
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 24th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I just gave it, but I can't really pin it down neatly. Basically, it was about A) how she has been neglected by scholars interested in theoretical questions; B) how that's a mistake; C) how her novel Play It As It Lays engages many of the same questions as the "high" film theory of the 1970s associated with the journal Screen; D) how we might think about her as a theorist. I didn't really have enough time to say what I needed to say, because the topic was too complicated. But it went pretty well. Thanks for asking!
From: bobo_amargo Date: February 25th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Ding an Sickness unto Death

You force me to protest. Though he still is probably a good place to go for students of Milton, the notion of appealing to Stanley Fish for a precis on Kant is tantamount to having George W. Bush summarize the tenets of progressivism. No wonder there was so much (lingering) hostility toward Kant in the Berkeley English dept. And I had thought it was Greenblatt's nefarious influence.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 27th, 2006 10:21 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Ding an Sickness unto Death

Just in from Phoenix after a long day of wandering Louisville and then traveling. But I wanted to respond to make it clear A) that I was being tongue in cheek when I wrote the bit about the quick summary of Kant, since the very idea is a bit silly; but B) he did a pretty good job within those somewhat silly parameters. Fish reminds me of my grandfather, who would hold whatever position was most likely to annoy you, then switch to your former position once you finally consented that he was right.
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