This past Friday Amy and I embarked on a journey to the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Theory and Criticism, and despite the weather we arrived safely and had an excellent lunch with Peter Schwenger on campus where we talked about Vilem Flusser and Peter’s forthcoming At the Borders of Sleep. After lunch we sat in on Ben Woodard‘s seminar discussion group on Speculative Realism where we discussed Ian Hamilton Grant’s essay in The Speculative Turn. At 3:30 I presented “What is a Compendium?” which was met with a great response and several pointed and charitable questions and comments from the excellent MA and PHD students at the Centre. Afterwards I had an excellent discussion with Andrew Weiss about his writing on Derrida’s The Animal that Therefore I Am and a further discussion with a few others about the methodology of writing a sermon on the existentialism of the book of Job. Overall the discourse and conversation were incredible, including the feedback I received on the paper. The people were charitable and friendly to my theological convictions, and I felt able to speak freely in that space between the disciplines of theology, philosophy, and writing – a space where I intend to remain for the foreseeable future. There’s some great stuff going on at the
The first paper I attended was presented by Luke Davies of the University of Toronto (who I had heard give a paper on Wittgenstein at the Windsor Conference). I can safely say that I learned more about Kant in that 20 minutes than in the several years preceding it. The next paper was presented by Brian York and it was on some connections between Schopenhauer and the Vedantins. I hope Doug is reading this, for the sake of the Schopenhauer reference.
The third paper was given by none other than Alex Svoboda, who was kind enough to provide Amy and I with a ride from Syracuse to Oneonta. His paper was on certain panoptic aspects of popular culture, and he presented brilliantly. The medium/form of his presentation was perfectly in line with the message/content, it was uncanny. Instead of reading his paper like other presenters he exercised a great deal of freedom as a speaker as he improvised and strayed from the text. Foucault and Žižek were mentioned, making the paper a favorite to be sure.
In a later session I enjoyed another paper given by a Torontonian, Daniel Telech who, in the hurry to the train station left all of his iced tea in the car. After discovering this half an hour later Amy and I decided to take the unplanned gift for what it was. Thank you Daniel.
More papers followed, a very illuminating examination of Foucault, discourse, and 9/11, and a paper on Heidegger by Patricia Frame which blew me away. I’ve run out of time but if I have the chance I will post more on this in a few weeks! Cheers Max