quinta-feira, 22 de novembro de 2012

Journey to Utopia: Day Six

In the morning I woke up and it would be my first day without Dale. He came downstairs anyway while I ate something and then his mother gave me a ride to the train station. I was worried because I could not afford to be late. My presentation would be the first one in the first panel of the morning. I had to check for the room and when I was there, after looking for it, I found out it was the only room on the other floor, it was a bit far from all the other rooms. When I got there I was on time, but all the other presenters were already on their places.

Professor Andrew Milner greeted me and we waited for some more minutes. While last year there were only me, the other presenter,a guy with a beard and the chair of the panel, this time there was really an audience. It was not that big, just a couple of people but it seemed more than I had expected. The thing is there was none of those big names presenting and I guess this discourages people to go there and see. Anyway, we did not want to waste more time and after waiting for more people for five minutes. I started. I read my paper and I was doing fine, talking about the social movements and about Marge Piercy's works. I had the sheets of paper with the text and I was putting the ones I had already read aside on the table, facing down and I was going okay when I saw I still had a lot of sheets to go through and Andrew showed the five-minute sign. I got nervous and started to skip through some paragraphs. When I got to the last page, I remembered. I had printed not only the text for my presentation but also the bus tickets and some other things and I had a pile and had put them all together in my folder. So, it was a false impression I still had a lot to go through and I just hope my ending did not lack any cohesion, even with my skipping. The chair praised me for ending on time and we proceeded to the next presenter, Claire, who was going to present about a novel I didn't know and the question of disability. After that, Eric Smith also had a presentation about another novel I didn't know and he talked about domesticity and difference. (We talked later and I learned that he had just published a book on science fiction from a post-colonialist perspective)

The people in the room interacted well and the discussion was nice. Even a guy who had arrived when I was halfway through with my presentation asked me some interesting question. The most puzzling one, and I did not give him a proper answer because maybe I hadn't really thought about: why the title of my presentation had "marriage" (of utopia and dystopia) in it. I meant it as a link, as a relationship, but he wanted to know if there was any implication with the institution of marriage.

The following session I went to was taking place in that same room. It would be Tom Moylan and Ruth Levitas, two important authors of books I had read, and Peter Stillman, whom I had never heard of. They were talking about Aldous Huxley's The Island. I had not read the novel but knew about it and as Huxley is an important author, I wanted to see what they were going to talk about. Having a panel only for that novel was somewhat curious. I have it now in my novel pile "to be read".

After the second session, it was time to have lunch. I had talked to Wylie, who was a student from university of Florida and the one who has helped me most and included me in all activities of the Marxist Reading Group I started going to.

He, all the UF group and I, were herded by Phil Wegner himself to a restaurant. It was in fact a food court and we spent some time deciding where we were going to have lunch. I chose a Chinese one: pasta or rice, two sides and a desert. The meal was good and after looking for places to sit together, I sat at a table with Wylie and we talked about Gainesville, Toronto and other things.

After lunch, the big group split: Wylie and some others went back to the hotel and some of us went to the art gallery. It was the chance, or my golden chance, of spending some quality time with Wegner and talking more about my research. I was still looking for ideas on how to focus my research and I thought he would enlighten me. We had a nice time, talking about my period in Gainesville, and he told me about Sweden. We talked about art and I just asked him if we would have some time to discuss my work because I felt that was not the place or time. He said the next day there would be a football game and we could talk on the breaks.

Back to the hotel, I had time to see part of the 3:00pm session. There was another scholar I had read in my studies and used in my masters, Vincent Geoghegan, so I was curious to hear the bibliography speaking. He was talking about post-human and his presentation was a bit more than I could cognitively digest. After that, a guy named Kyle was talking about Sloterdijk. He is a contemporary philosopher I had briefly heard about.

The final panel was one I was very interested in. It would be about crytical dystopia, a concept which is going to be very important in my studies. It was coined by Tom Moylan and he would be there as a panel discussant. This was the first time I saw that. They explained it was a person invited to comment on the speakers before there were the questions. Two of the speakers were not famous and the third was Kathi Weeks. I had never heard of her before coming to the US but she is going to be one of the keynote speakers at a conference I am going to participate and I had read one chapter of her book The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism and Postowrok Imaginaries. It is indeed a very interesting book, so I was curious to hear more about what she had to say. Tha panel was thought-provoking but I saw the intention of the speakers in transforming Moylan's historicized concept of crytycal dystopia that he had used for a certain body of works into a method. He argued against that.

After that there would be a guided visit to a science fiction collection in the library near the hotel. It would start one hour after the end of this last panel. I was tired. My body and my sould thought it should be better if I just went home. It would be my last night with Dale, so I wanted to talk more with him. Also, I would be waking up early the following day as I would chair a panel. By the way, during the course of that Friday, from the moment I was answering questions about my presentation, my voice starting failing until I got really hoarse.

I was not sure if there would still be trains. I saw some leaving but I preferred getting the bus. It was funny because there were many many people in line. They were like those travel buses, not the traditional city ones. What happened was that the driver kept asking people to board and a lot just had to stand. Some teenagers started making fun of the situation, saying that it was Canada and they shouldn't be doing that, that it looked like a third world country bus. I slept and only woke up when everybody who was standing had to get off so that people who were sitting could get off in Aurora, a city before Newmarket.

At home, I don't remember what happened. I packed and remember Dale and I talked. I don't know why I had got so tired and I still had a week before going home.

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