Saturday, September 28, 2013

The View From In the Out Here

This is the view from the upper reaches of the Tower of Babel.*The horizon stretches far and you are not alone. This year's BABEL Critical/Liberal/Arts gathering showed me again. The workers - the haulers of bricks, the carvers of stone, the facilitators of the great machine that is the tower, pause. What prompted them to do so? The tedium of the work? The glory of of it? I've certainly felt both in the Grand Project of Academe. So we stopped, we looked, and this is what we saw. Henry Turner and the Hollow Earth Society made invitations, strategized an open, reaching university: Henry with the Society for the Arts of Organization (consider the medieval body that is the corporation, join this one, grow the idea!), the HES with an introduction to the edurganism, academe as spreading slime mold instead of ivory tower (or even underground rhizome), academic practice as para_site, doing its work _next to_ the institution (feed your students, hike with them, publish wild things!). Eleanor Johnson with Toad Poetry (look closely, care until it's creepy and then ask all the questions), Ammiel  Alcalay with Lost and Found (gather the archive until it's no longer an archive but a place). Bruce Holsinger with Chaucer and Gower's critical friendship (and yes yes yes, this brilliant scholar's long-awaited historical fiction novel, A Burnable Book, is coming out, and yes yes yes a brilliant scholar wrote a work of fiction), and Allen W. Strouse with Sir Orfeo (and the idea of potential pilgrims which made me think of perpetual potential pilgrimages and made me realize I was on one). Jamie "Skye" Bianco with Q3C (Queer, Creative, Critical Compositionalism with things that have affect, let's start with the flotsam and jetsam that makes it to shore, let's be "para-academic DJs," compiling and collecting, gathering and curating)' and Eirik Steinhoff making "Nothing Happen" (and I held a pamphlet for the first time in forever and there was Rosa Luxembourg and the idea of sabotage, and Kafka, so it got complicated and good). And Michael Whitmore with Fuzzy Structuralism (when software starts to read Shakespeare) and Marina Zurkow and Una Chauduri with Inner Climate Change (and yes, for 7 minutes we listened to a soundscape meditation, and no, it wasn't easy).

And for one of the first times in a gathering of academic to talk about academe, the emphasis was not on despair, but on action. There are Things We Do, and there are Things To Do. You _are_ institutional change, but you are also parasite and collector, producer of pamphlets and writer of wild words, gatherer of students and toaster (!) of friends. You are in the tower and of the tower, but the view from Babel/BABEL stretches out to sea to see a lush island and strong currents. And from there we'll wave to Eileen Joy and Allan Mitchell and Julie Orlemanski and Myra Seaman who got us up here in the first place. Tomorrow, we'll go to Oceanic New York, where Steve Mentz started us thinking Thursday night. For now, I'm going inside to see the art that's clinging to the walls and the objects humming under pools of light.

* This is also my first time composing on my iPad, so pardon the absence of links. I'll get those up tomorrow, because you'll want to visit. I'll try to keep weird autocorrect miscorrects to a minimum.

1 comment:

  1. Great summary of a great day, Anne. Let's build stuff together!