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Postmodern Village
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The Mainly Annual EastWesterly Review/Postmodern Village Conference 2004

A Report on the 11th Annual Conference
by E.W. Wilder

The Lost Conferation
AP PhotoHave you ever wiped sand out of your eye as you peered across the desert after having hopped hastily from a C-130 that is slowly spinning its turboprops down after a nauseating, steep-banked descent, only to be met with the sickening thump of a mortar round falling just a few dozen yards away and rendering you temporarily deaf?

Well, that’s what we experienced when we initially visited the original site of our 11th Annual Postmodern Village Conference, the (in)famous Green Zone in balmy Baghdad, Iraq. It would be a bold move to have the conference here, we said to each other. It would be symbolically, emotionally, and politically powerful.

The Eiffel TowerSo we did what any cadre of wine-drinking, cheese-eating members of the cultural elite would do under similar circumstances. We went to Paris.

The French capital and centre of culture, art, cuisine, and high-fashion has become almost a cliché. But in it we found one remaining area of run-down slum that had yet to be turned into an artist community, tourist trap, or historical site, the little-known neighborhood of Montcornflaques, nestled above the whitewashed rue Au Lait. Our host venue was a quaint old bed-and breakfast nee flour mill called Le Post.

Stinky cheese!Therefore it was perfect for literature-minded ex-pats like us. The wine was cheap, the cheese was adequately stinky, and the bread could chip teeth.

Liberty, Fraternity, Heavy Drinking

The party began on the first day, with all 2417 of us wandering from room to room in a manner directed by Bacchus, with a little help from his cherubim, Lager and Ale. It was reported in Le Monde that we made the storied sewers of Paris drunk with our liquid human waste. We have never been more proud.

Were there fights? Lord, who can remember?

It's easier to make friends with wine than with matching ties.Conference 11, perhaps due to the venue, perhaps to the breakdown of the TSA’s vaunted security apparatus, but most likely to the backlash of academe against the current occupant of the White House and his disposition to the French, was the best attended and the most heavily contributed to conference in the history of Postmodern Village. So many papers were presented, in fact, that we were forced to split the conference into several sections of interest (as you'll see in the following pages), and even break off a special pre-conference that focused on the Bush Administration as Geopolitical Text and the War in Iraq as Pop-Culture phenomenon.

Two thousand of us penned up in a Paris hotel with an open bar - it was like a reality TV show called The Lush Life. But, judging by the notes your intrepid author managed to crib (the legible ones, anyway) we all came out winners.


Page 2: Pre-Conference