Thursday, March 31, 2011

Collage, Cyborg, Corpse: Conference in Indiana

 Saturday, March 26, 2011 - Bloomington, IN

Carlea & Me, pre-conference
Saturday morning, we woke up early and headed to campus to prepare for our talk, "Collage, Cyborg, Corpse: Metaphors for Collaborative Experience," which we gave at 9am.  You can see the talk for yourself over at Call & Response, but I think it went really well.  Since I haven't explained yet what we were proposing, I'll give a little detail.  After looking over more recent scholarship on collaboration (Levi-Strauss's bricoleur and Haraway's cyborg), we realized that while these were completely interesting and valid metaphors, we had a third, equally valid one: the exquisite corpse.*  Looking at modern life's myriad collaborations, surrealism becomes a remarkably relevant lens.  People seemed to understand what we were saying (some nods, some note-taking), and the questions they asked at the end were all really intelligent, and made some valid points.  The only thing I would change about our presentation is that I would have preferred to have a more conversational presentation, since we mostly read the paper directly, which isn't my favorite presentation strategy.  Given how crazy busy we both were in the weeks leading up to it, though, and the fact that I've been out of school for three years and Carlea's been out for one year, I think we did a damn good job, and I'm really proud of us.  The paper may not have been total genius, and C&R may never get a million readers (or, let's be honest, a thousand), but we worked really hard on both, and we care a lot about both, and the fact that we're doing them is awesome.

Carlea & Jeremy are hilarious.
The presentations after ours were both really interesting, if only slightly related to our project.  Carlea and I joked that we were accidentally put on the panel, which was called "Almost Alive," because we had the word cyborg in our title.  I don't doubt that, but the other two papers, Kimberly A. Musial's "The Bionic Skyscraper: Kenneth Yeang's National Library of Singapore" and Joseph A. Tuminello III's "Connections Between Humans & their Avatars: Applying Clark & Chalmer's** 'Extended Mind' Thesis," were both really interesting, and I'm honored that we could all share a panel.  We attended a second panel, "Between You ad Me...", which was more of a discussion, right afterward, and I had a chance to meet up with my friend Traci (who, coincidentally, was presenting at the same time as we were, about collaborative poetry) for the first time since I worked with her on the SLC Poetry Festival in 2008.  She's amazing, and when I asked, "What have you been up to for three years?", she casually replied, "Well, once I finished my MFA, I drove across the country and lived in my car before marrying my best friend and having my first book published.  Since he's finishing his PhD at Western Michigan and I knew I'd be there for at least four more years, I figured I should get mine too, so now I'm teaching and doing that."  Wow, right?  I know.  Wow.
Ahh!  Boylan's Soda Fountain!

On the way to Soma.
Carlea and I skipped the free pizza lunch to continue our foray through Bloomington's amazing food scene.  After stopping by the Bloomington Public Library booksale (finds: Brenda Hillman, Robert Bly, Michael Fried, Saskia Hamilton, Joshua Weiner, and Zadie Smith) and meeting up with some of Carlea's folklore friends, we all headed over to Bloomingfoods, one of my most favorite grocery stores of all time.  It's small, local, with a few branches, each of which is special in its own way.  On Saturday afternoon, we headed to the smallest of the three branches, which has an amazing deli.  Carlea and I split an enormous turkey, avocado and cheddar sandwich AND a delicious quesadilla with goat cheese and pear relish on a perfectly fried corn tortilla.  I'd forgotten how deeply in love with corn tortillas I am.  The cherry on top?  A Boylan's soda fountain!  For $0.99 a glass!  Oh my god, I nearly died.  This was such a fun, fun meal.  I am smiling just thinking about it now.

Carlea, Ozan, and Dave at Turkauz.
After lingering upstairs in the dining area for a while, we decided we had time to head to Material Plane, another vintage shop, before Jeremy needed to be at his presentation.  The shop was nice, and a few of us tried different things on, but no one purchased anything.  A quick stop for a Lewinsky at Soma (okay, it was around this point that I decided I should eschew all pretension about living in New York and move to Bloomington) and we headed over to the Kelley Business School, where the Folklore conference was being held to see Jeremy's presentation on "Creating Community in New Delhi's Comics Culture."  One ice cream sundae at Hartzell's later, and we were back at Michelle's, relaxing and packing until dinner time, which turned out to be quite late.  A big group of us met up at Turkauz, a Turkish cafe where we were all able to sit on the floor.  Don't ask why I find this so appealing.  I just do.  I had a wonderful eggplant pide with fried egg, and with the delicious lentil soup and the salads that came before it, a small was the perfect size.  I'm not sure why, but about halfway through the pide, it started to feel like one of the best meals I'd had in a long time.  All of the food was incredible this trip, but there was something just perfect about the fried bread.  And at $10 for the whole meal, I don't think I need to explain how into Bloomington I was by the end of Saturday.  I was totally in.

*I link to wikipedia here because wikipedia is part of our argument, and also because it's usually really good at making difficult concepts easier to understand.  If you'd like to see some of the sources we used, though, shoot me a comment and I'll send you copies.
** Um, these two are my authors!  Did I tell you I have the greatest job ever?

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