Conference delight and the return to normalcy

I'm currently sitting in bed with a virus, which may be becoming bronchitis -- no better time to update my log. I finally finished Beloved last night (left over from exam-crunching), which has been interesting to read alongside Vollmann's Last Stories and Other Stories. So many ghosts! So much death! But while being bedridden might work for fiction, this morning my addled mind was too weak to 100% handle Barbara Johnson's discussion of Poe, Lacan, and Derrida (though I could still delight in her excellent moves, my state was insufficient to juggle the at least 3 - or maybe more - critical positions in the essay.) Is this a little pathetic? Maybe. Nietzsche didn't stop reading just because he had those blinding headaches and so on. (Well, maybe he did take a break. Maybe.) In any case, I have some great friends from SCT to thank for putting me on to Barbara Johnson, even though it took me a year to get to her--between exams and the book having been stolen, the reorder lost, and now finally after 6 months delivered. It's turning out that this pleasure reading might even have some kind of place in my project, even if it's a small one.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to my first ASAP - the conference for the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. Great acronym, long name. But it was a really excellent time, and even though I was struggling with pulling together the all-new material for my talk, it was actually received much better than I had expected. Lots of good feedback, learned a new word - "to audiate" - and even made some cool friends. In case you're interested, my talk was called "Listening to David Foster Wallace: Synesthesia and the Sound of Sincerity." I basically argued that narrative-theoretical discussions of "voice" (focusing on 3 articles by Jim Phelan) gesture to the synesthetic experience of hearing what you read silently, but they don't develop its implications. So I tried to do that, by exploring "hearing" and "reading" in Charles Bernstein and Thomas Ratcliffe (language-y poetic stuff) and then doing a rhythmic/metrical analysis of the beginning of The Pale King that tried to show how sonic components could contribute to a meaning/mood effect as diffuse as "sincerity." As conference papers go, it was looser and more exploratory than I've given before, but I think that paid off because the audience got engaged and had lots of good questions (and skepticism too -- which is good because the range of engagement suggests I'm on to something of value).

Now this week, in addition to sleeping, I have been reading more of that Vollmann (though it's a little deadening-depressing, all coins and dirt and death and rot), trying to write some of the emails I promised to send over the last few weeks, getting around to a crash course in linguistics and cohesion, and tomorrow seeing Susan Howe at a lecture + afterparty. Tonight I need to re-brief on her impressively voluminous body of work...

Now for some lunch and copyediting. Later: rest.