I haven’t been away from my home keyboard setup for this long in a few years. The reason I know is because I haven’t read hundreds of @news comments. I have stopped caring about all of the updates of my “friends.” And I’m ambivalent about catching all of you up with my trip.
That’s not totally true of course. With my phone I have been updating snarky little bits about the daily life of my trip but that isn’t real. It’s just for a laugh. The real take away from this trip is a running series of thoughts about the people I’ve met, the incredible things I’ve seen, and how fast life goes when you’re actually living it. All that computer time, all those projects, as valuable, blah blah, just feels like something else. Something dumb.
British Columbia is lovely. It’s the place we’ll all run to when the world collapses. Denman Island both is and isn’t an idyllic environment to stage a revolution or to spin a nice interpretation of the bowl form. Not much else to say about there.
The ostensible reason I was on Vancouver Island was to go to a conference on Nihilism. Academic conferences are a trip. I guess I should try to go to them more often but they demonstrate so many strange things at the same time it’s hard to pin down just one to discuss. Here is a start. Thousands of dollars are spent to host an event that no more than 50 people passed through the entire weekend. It was mostly no more than half this number. It was mostly no more than a dozen who were not also presenters. Moreover the number of presentations that actually dealt with nihilist concepts, that attempted to tackle what it means to live without meaning (meta-narrative) or power were few. Like one hand few.
Doesn’t mean there weren’t quite a few interesting presentations. The most were the ones that conflated pessimism for nihilism (the few on David Foster Wallace were OK). The political presentations were mostly not good but there were some sparks. Maybe in five years these could be fanned into flames but the context is probably a wet blanket. It is probably not possible to suss out much in the way of detail about how to act in an age of political, social powerlessness. The professors hold the conversations hostage and the grad students do not dare offend them. The number of social actors was nearly zero. The conversations were only held between sessions and then mostly about popular theoreticians and brands.
It’s nice to be fed and given gas money but I hope for little but access to the next generation of para-academics at events like this. These are the people who I hope to collaborate with in the future.
The event at Camas that Sunday evening was of a different caliber. I’m not saying the difference was me but I could see at least three different levels of engagement in my presentation (at least two somewhat hostile) and there was at least some hope that I incensed a few people to further, future activity. That’s always the hope of course. Further engagement and interrogation along the lines of a fresh and painful view on the same old assumptions. I also appreciate the Camas model. They have figured out how to maintain a long term anarchist project and stayed humble in the face of it. It no longer looks like a subcultural anarchist project and I think that’s great.
Anyway I’m like 10 days past this on the trip so I’m going to post this and get started on entry 4 (From BC to MI).