Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Email excerpt from Carl Dede in Reno, re: Baudrillard

"I wanted to contribute my hazy recollections of the Baudrillard conference. Of course I remember the French woman filmaker and the sado-masochistic porn film that was shown (copulating couple with him on top sticking pins in her ears). This was somehow intellectually meaningful and I attempted to give it merely cortexual attention....however my limbic system also responded approvingly.I attempted to mask my prurient reaction with a clinical air.
Then I remember a well-dressed man in black (Silliman?) standing at the podium and actually rocking back on his heels to deliver these impenetrable polysyllabic broadsides which issued from his lips as though from a machine gun. The sense of an intellectual cutting contest was in the air...we watched in amazement,but, in my case at least, without comprehension.
That was also my reaction to Eugene Chadbourne with his electric rake and rantings about "Uncle Ollie's playhouse" (Col. Oliver North). The bigwig intellectuals found him mystifiying and did not linger long. It was very loud.
In fact, the whole night was mystifying but exhilirating and somehow important but how? I remember being proud of you for throwing Chadbourne into the mix...the completely necessary touch of surrealism.
And speaking of surrealism what could be more surrealistic then Lutheranism?"

I had forgotten about that woman. Maybe she was there with Kroker? (Another strange guy.) There were a LOT of crazy people there. Many presenters and participants. There may have been a vague sense among many, asking themselves, Is anyone going to stand up and say something sensible? But the odds seemed against it.

Herbert Marcuse gave a lecture in Missoula in the early 70s. It created a stir in the air, and was well attended, yet, was a very academic and staid affair--as philosophy tends to be. It was the genius of William Cholupka to invite Silliman to respond. If it had been an actual academic's rebuttal the event would certainly been drained of all energy.

I'm not sure Carl is remembering Silliman. Did he wear black? There were a lot of people dressed in black. I like the analogy of a "cutting" session, though. Silliman's rhetoric aside (" . . . I decline to slay Baudrillard . . .") he was sharp and, as the saying goes, cutting him a new one. But well-dressed? I'd guess sneakers and a tweed jacket--Bay area gear.

Trying to remember that weekend I'm alarmed at how little I remember. Our lives are the stuff that conferences are made of. Dust in the mind.

Ideas don't total up like hotel bills and bar tabs.


Silliman writes: " . . . I once watched Arthur Kroker slay Fred Jameson in Lawrence, Kansas . . ."

I thought Jameson was the real deal? He introduced me to the Russian theorists (as did the Lang====uage poets) for which I'll always be grateful. Why would anybody want to gun him down?

No, Carl. The answer is not "Just to watch him die."


Blogger Kirby Olson said...

I enjoyed reading this, too.

11:23 AM  

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