The Mainly Annual
EastWesterly Review/Postmodern Village
by E.W. Wilder
Location Information (and a Bit of Grunching):
While it was awfully generous of the University of Idaho to host this
year’s Postmodern Village Conference, especially given these times
of tight budgets, conservative outlooks, and neo-tribal/traditionalisms,
this reporter is unsure of his ability to handle dorm life and industrial
food at his current age and in his current state of tune.
Residence Center, for all its glamor and the -- I’m sure more
or less genuine -- attempt at Mid-Century Modern furniture in the basement,
still managed to fail at being just-past-middle-age friendly, and the
permanent scent of scorched microwave popcorn did not agree with this
reporter’s sensitivities and propensity toward GERD.
Complicating matters, the proximity of gorgeous mountain vistas and
abundant recreational opportunities turned the constant grind of workshop
attendance and logistics into something of a cruel joke, juxtaposing
the beauty of nature with the brutal nature of business.
Thesis! Antithesis! Synthesis!
Still, some fun was had when some miracle presented a keg of beer, perhaps
the result of a bit of dormitory-inspired nostalgia? The breach of our
contract with the University of Idaho was temporarily overlooked by
conference organizers as they, too, were seen hoisting a plastic cup
to fallen theories and formulations of the literary canon.
A Chaos in Search of a Conference
These past few years have seemed to lend themselves to the tight categorization
of conference papers. There’s something about a common enemy to
focus the mind. But perhaps reflecting the upheavals in the markets
and the marketplace of ideas, perhaps the de-centering effects of a
world in which Lady Gaga is a cultural icon and Michele Bachmann can
out-poll Barack Obama, perhaps the inexplicable popularity of the Planet
of the Apes prequel or the apotheosis of Cormac McCarthy, perhaps
all these have conspired to make this year’s batch of papers meander
the cultural scene like an inebriated junebug. This year, even the ardent
Marxists seemed inexplicably rattled.
But for good or ill, and for the lack of anyone’s ability to
tell the difference, there were these:
Papers, Part 1