We are just back from the Law, Culture, and the Humanities meeting at Berkeley. If you were at the Philadelphia airport on Thursday and saw a guy throwing up outside terminal F, that was Paul. If you were walking down Bancroft street on Friday night and heard horrible vomiting sounds from the second floor of a hotel, that was me. We got the awful stomach flu. Paul had to travel with it, so he had it worse. The initial vomiting fit is followed by chills, shakes, and fever. Then a few days of fever, aches, loss of appetite. It gives an extra post-abdominal surgery feeling to jet lag that is liberating in its ability to coat everything in a glossy shield of 'fuck it all, anyway.'
The best of the meeting: the best paper was from my friend James. He gave a brilliant reading of Kafka through Benjamin on conspiracy. One of his points: the messiah comes and goes, but no one notices. The best anecdote from the meeting: the job candidate who was texting while in a thirty minute face-to-face with the department chair. This should be added to my list of tips for how not to get a job.
The worst of the meeting: paper givers who selfishly take up far more time than they are allotted, screwing up their film clips and saying, sorry, just another few minutes; these folks are enabled by miserable chairs who don't bother keeping time and discussants who think that their role is to lecture everyone in the room on what the paper givers didn't say. Worst food--a very strange cooked melon and dried tiny shrimp dish that James forced us to eat (oddly, right before I was violently ill).
On the plane back (after watching the pathetic "August Rush" with tears streaming down my face), I read the screen of a woman typing in the row in front of me. She was writing about her trip, the one from which she seemed to be returning. She described going to a business cocktail party and not knowing anyone. The actual content wasn't particularly interesting, but I found myself wanting to keep reading in part because of the intrusion of my reading. I was a voyeur. And I wonder if an appeal of blogs is voyeuristic or if, rather, we lose the possibility of voyeurism when everyone is an exhibitionist. I kinda think the latter and that is rather sad.