When I was a bit younger, attending a conference meant arriving at the beginning, a palpable sense of relief when I saw my name on a list, a whole day of socio-intellectual posturing, hovering around at the end on the off chance I might be invited to dinner, and then settling for a sandwich on the train.
I was aware of a few vanity commandos who just turned up, shared a few thousand words, looked collaborative and collegiate, availed themselves of some free coffee, and then buggered off. And yesterday, to my slight horror, I realised I had become one of them.
I say this to second Emma's post yesterday on 'The Play's the Thing' where she implied it would have been good to attend the whole two day event (in my defence, I did stay for the improvised song at the end, and even danced, somewhat awkwardly...). Alas the RSA keep us chained to our desks, and I feared a whipping had I ventured out for too long. But it was great to meet some seriously playful people.
The 'shouty' exchange Emma wrote about, on the jurisprudence of virtual infidelity, was between Steve Fuller(mostly friendly and acting in self-defence, but too effervescent to be comfortable with somebody else describing his position in their words) and Dougald Hine(mostly forceful and insistent, but polite enough to ask the audience for an extra minute- nobody dare decline).
The highlight of this highlight was the moment Dougald suggested that Steve Fuller's apparent discomfort with letting others finish, in the context of his rampant futurism, had something to do with an unwillingness to face up to death. He seemed to think this discomfort with endings, with points being completed, was something to do with 'hostile full stops'...and again I hope that hostile full stop moment was captured on camera.(grrr)
To be absolutely honest, I had never heard of Dougald(I'm sure it was mutual) but he has intense Aslan-like features, and I almost gave him a standing ovation for another line offered a few minutes before this little stooshie broke out.
I don't remember the exact context, but his line was(close to verbatim, but worth checking later on the event website).
"People are tired because they are living off the battery of the ego and don't feel they can plug themselves into any kind of metaphysical mains."
Wow. It's just a line, as they say, but it spoke to me. I wanted Dougal to know it was appreciated, and to send it, with gratitude, out into the echo chamber.