Monday, October 16, 2006

As Fragile as Glass

My goal of writing a post-SPEP post has been stalled for two reasons: One, I could not find a picture of the Jellybean Children, and Two, nothing really substantial (or even clever) to say. Well since the latter goes without saying, especially for anyone who has ever read this blog before, I will explain the former. SPEP was held in Philadelphia, specifically in the "old city" (or "old town" or "ye olde city" or something like that) which is full of tourist attractions, just like in days of old. One of these tourist attractions is the National Liberty Museum. Now, I can imagine what you are thinking, there is nothing exceptional about that name, however, did you know that the museum is "The only Museum in the world featuring contemporary glass art to represent the fragile qualities of freedom?" I kid you not. And that it features "Jellybean Children" in celebration in diversity? Now, I did not go into the museum, but I did look at it, and read its brochure and very much enjoyed the picture of the Jellybean Children and wanted to post it here, but could not find such a picture.

As for the second reason, the conference was fun, which surprised me a bit. I heard a few interesting papers, mostly by friends or at least acquaintances, which raises the question (discussed at the conference, but not officially) do we like the papers of our friends, or are we friends of the people whose papers we like? I can tell you that my favorite one liner of the conference was: "In America even the Marxist are liberals." Not the sort of thing that one would expect to hear at SPEP, but that is part of what made this conference enjoyable, plenty of papers off of the beaten Husserl, Heidegger, Derrida, Levinas path. Badiou was oddly disappointing, references to Spinoza notwithstanding. This might have something to do with the way in which Badiou decided to address "existence" and "phenomena," perhaps he was not informed that SPEP is just a name, a relic even, and not a program. Or maybe he is just not good live. Wendy Brown, however, was very impressive.

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