preview: all hallows

The party that wasn’t a halloween party did (sortof) happen last night. I (as usual) weighed my options. Too tired? Such an old fart! Ok, fine, why not see how the other team really lives?
For an hour I was the only woman among a half-dozen or so apparent bachelors. According to a certain logic, I fit right in. ­čÖé Nonetheless, when the conversation turned to talk of mothers from solicitous straight sons, I recognized some limits to mutual identification. Seeds of a horror movie were planted, until we were informed that some people had a list of other movies to make first – of an unspecified genre. Hmmm. We discussed the merits of Fear, the mtv miniseries, and the desire of such a large percentage of people to vicariously “experience” horrific events similar to those some people have actually undergone. Are these doses of self-induced, artificial, safe fear a substitute for the real fears we prefer not to confront? I am thinking of the big ones, global warming, perpetual war, unending poverty, while being aware that there are interpersonal fears as well: having a job/income, friends, a life partner… (ok, maybe this is just projection).
The trip to Israel is coming up, which elicited some questions. Do we hope for hope, or do we act as if there is hope? My somewhat circular conversation with the Cameroonian who is hoping there is hope (!) helped me clarify the core question that the conference seeks to address. Can academics really make a difference?
I have been thinking, off and on, about my upcoming presentation at Dialogue under Occupation II. I’ll be talking about my observation that during the first conference, last year in Chicago, most of us as participants and workshop presenters did not engage in dialogue with each other. Actually, I can be more precise, the places where the need for dialogue was most apparent did not materialize. Instead, we privileged “discourse” in our workshop presentations, and we acted along established streams of discourse whenever areas of genuine disagreement arose. At least, this is what I witnessed. No doubt, real dialogue was occurring among at least some of the conference organizers because it is an incredible feat of courage and willpower to have arranged for this second conference to be held in East Jerusalem.
Originally slated for the West Bank, events in the region forced a move to East Jerusalem. A planned pre-conference tour to Ramallah has been cancelled. How can dialogue of any kind possibly develop in a region with such historically deep divisions? In other words, can our being there – meeting and talking from our broad intellectual knowledges and personal passions – make any kind of difference? Who knows.
At any rate, the other seed planted last night, for those attuned to the conspiracy, is for The Linus Foundation. Now, I’m not saying this idea is in competition with breaking into film production, in fact, the two possibilities are already quantumly linked. Of course, there is the matter of follow-through….

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