26th Annual Postmodern Village Conference (2019)

By Mary Chino Cherry

Hard by the of't neglected west edge of the Purewater University campus is a building we all refer to as "the tool shed." Built hastily in the great enrollment expansion of the ‘60s out of concrete, wooden poles, and corrugated tin, the tool shed contains all of the various machine tools and equipment to keep the university more or less in order: metal-working lathes, drill-presses, and work-benches cluttered with bent desk frames, blower fans in various states of deconstruction, SMART-boards dumbed down by disrepair. The tool shed is the boneyard of academe's corporeal existence. The tool shed is mostly shadow: poorly heated and barely lit, a haven for the men and women who polish floors, paint the walls, and put the fraying carpets to right.

TentsIt is also not where 2019's Postmodern Village conference was sent to; rather, the more or less open field right next door is where, this year, we ended up. "Door," of course, is figurative, a metaphor as dead as this year's budget, the knob-end of the otherwise elegant PU campus. But like the knob, it is a working end, and unlike some unnameable executives high in the university structure, we got a lot of good and a little somewhat questionable work done this year, despite conditions.

The tents, it turns out, added a festive air, and with one notable exception, the mercurial Kansas weather cooperated. The roar of the generators that ran the laptops and projectors managed to offset Stan Wankey's solar rig to tip us back toward carbon positive, but, as they say, it's the thought that counts. Speaking of thoughts, they unfurled like a tent-flap in the wind, a lovely image masking three collapses, two lacerations, and at least one fire. Who needs arrests when the very location is trying to do you in?

And so, without too much further folderol, the papers await.