I leave for the West Coast on Wed afternoon, just in time for the voracious whirlpool of BABEL 2016. Whenever I browse through the overflowing program I find something new I’m looking forward to: art installations! rooftop parties! epigraphs from Moby-Dick!
Having not been able to resist the wonders of the Calls for Papers, I’m going to speak five (!) times over the three days of the conference. I’ll be brief, don’t worry.
Here are some previews of the flood.
Thursday morning early I’m heading into the surf with some brave souls and neoprene as an immersive preamble to my 9:30 am Plenary talk, “Bodysurfing.” The talk will start with two mantras to guide my surf-theory and my BABEL-ing:
1. Experience is better than knowledge. (Samuel Champlain)
2. Everything is allegorical.
The next day I’ll meet the Material Collective just after noon for a Walk on Goleta Beach on the UCSB campus, which will lead into our double-session seminar/flash exhibition/presentation. A little piece of the CT Shoreline will travel with me.
I’m also going to serve as designated Flanuer for a 3:30 pm panel that afternoon on “Coastal Creatures,” which sounds excellent.
At 5 pm on Fri, I’m part of the overflowing SCALE Plenary session. My talk, “Ocean,” flows over 40,000km in just four minutes.
The hard thing about this thinking is scale. The great waters are too big, too close, and too flowing to hold in hand or mind. We have no whale’s throat to swallow them whole.
Saturday at 2 pm I’m chairing Justin Kolb’s panel, “Sous les paves, la plage!” — under the pavement, the beach! He’s kindly let me adapt his great CFP for my intro. He describes arriving in Cairo in May 2013 when the square was a beach.
When Tahrir Square became beach, its traffic circle was a vibrant democratic assembly, with possibilities and vulnerabilities that attend life on the edge of the world.
Last of all I’m contributing seven vocabulary words to Ellen MacKay and Jody Enders’s “Sea Changes” session on Saturday afternoon.
What if all our talking hasn’t been oceanic enough? I want to change our grounded terrestrial metaphors. What happens if we swap out terrestrial language for salt-water terms?
That doesn’t include plans for immersive adventures, breakfast Saturday with one of my favorite friends, plus hearing and seeing so many great-sounding talks and exhibitions that I don’t have space to list them here.
Flying home on Sunday morning I’m going to be pretty tired.