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The Mainly Annual EastWesterly Review/Postmodern
Village Conference 2003
Conference Papers, a Select Review
Ant: The New Physics of RetroCelebrity"
by Karma Cammile Eyun
Probably properly more like Mike "Ron" Leville’s
nanobiotic prognostications than the other paper of similar
name, Eyun’s paper did have us all awed at, um, "her"
ability to stop light with just a shot glass, a ruby, and a
Maglite. While tachymeres may explain the phenomenon of the
20-year pop cycle, nothing explains why the merely tacky has
come along for the ride.
Aunt: Evolutionary Genetics and Trans-Sexuality: its Link to
the Popular Music of the 1980s"
by Jen D.R. Bender
We can’t say this paper presented any surprises, but
the runway show was first rate. It was also a practical education:
the dust blown in from the surrounding desert gave a living
example of what can happen when sand gets between you and your
The Matrix: Reality, TV, and Your RAndoM Access FuturePresent"
by Mike "Ron" Leville
Nanobots controlling your brain? Hallucinogenic video games
sapping your ability to do anything more active than froth at
the mouth? Your Dell sucking the life-force out of you so it
can run SETI At Home while you sleep? It’s all science-fiction,
right? Leville has us questioning even that, though the persistent
power-outages in Chloride tended to undermine the effects of
the virtual-reality hut designed specifically for this paper.
But the presentation was convincing enough that we wondered
afterward if he had really read it or not. What is theatricality?
Sosay, Marked McGwire and The Usual Suspects: of Corked Bats,
Cranked Biceps, Sluggerdom and SARS"
by Pietro Rojas
The last part of Rojas’ presentation we
found particularly pertinent as we hacked up bloody chunks of
our own lungs into the waiting spittoons. But how can we stop
taking risks with our bodies? We want to win, don’t we?
It’s positively unAmerican not to want to win!
Llewelyn: The People’s Case for Victims of Maverick Black
by "Little" Stevie Hocking
Llewelyn’s immediate disappearance after The People’s
Court, especially considering the show itself seemed to
have survived, leads credence to the idea that black holes,
contrary to current rationality-bound scientific thinking, are
really vindictive, pocket-sized people-suckers, floating about
the universe, pulling ordinary celebrities into alternate dimensions.
And if Elvis is any indication, not even stars can escape.
Consumer Carpetbagging: Bob Dole and the Age of Post-Political
by Merck N. Pfizer
In the post-Watergate Reconstruction, with the emergence of
the New South as a political force and the Yankee strongholds
of the Northeast in retreat, it just makes sense that somebody
should profit. And God knows Bob Dole won’t find a job
in Kansas right now. The big plus to this presentation: free
samples. If it had come with Pepsi too, we’d all have
done backflips on the beach.
Your Frequency, Kenneth? The Relative Hunkiness of
the "Big" Three News Anchors vs. Donald Rumsfeld,
by Michael "Moby" Malkovitch
We can’t figure it out either, even with Malkovitch’s
charts and graphs and his video overhead projection. But the
polls don’t lie.
Bookie of Virtues: William Bennett Gambles on 4 Giveness"
by P.B. Wombat
We could tell that Wombat was disappointed in his erstwhile
pop hero, but the raffle at the end of the presentation to win
round-trip tickets to Vegas were well worth sitting through
the otherwise dry talk.
the Issue: George W. Bush, the Holy Seer of the Great White
House on the Hill, or Washington D.C.: the New Jerusalem?"
by Onan O’Brien
O’Brien’s idea that Bush has a need to show up
daddy by pushing through bigger tax cuts, finishing off Saddam
and bringing a "moral center" back to the American
people is an example of the "vision thing" his father
lacked is both terrifying and probable. We never thought we’d
be so disturbed by the vision when it finally arrived. Some
explanation can be found in the coincidence of W’s drying
out and his getting religion: American policy is just the result
of somebody else’s DTs.
Theatre, or Pop n’ Go: 'Cultural Criticism' and the Death
of Literature in 'The Age of Information,' Yo"
by E.W. Wilder
This one is self-explanatory, and just sounds like griping
from an old fuddy-duddy to us. How could Wilder wear that corduroy
jacket in the desert anyway? It’s not just uncomfortable,
it’s just so thirtysomething. And adding "Yo"
to the title, while a noted attempt at humor, just wasn’t
funny. Who you tryna be, dawg?
Jr. High: the Unadulterated Truth"
by Hugh Hosier
The sex, the lurid, beer-soaked parties, the torrid affairs
between the older-than-jr. high-in-reality cast members and
the show’s producers - it’s stuff worthy of VH-1's
Behind the Music. But Behind DeGrassi would
have been too accurate. And that was just during the presentation
- the contents of the paper were really scandalous!
Cloning Experiments: The Patty Duke Show"
by Dolly Madgison
Administration Amelioration of CIA Information"
by Charles Barrista
Ongoing investigations in Great Britain and senator Pat Roberts’
non-investigation in America serve to show exactly why what
Bush calls "revisionist history" is merely a correction
of his gaming of intelligence information to trump up a war
with Iraq. We’re all caught in the slough, of course,
but Bush’s "previsionist" policy, according
to Barrista, has the hallmark of performance art: fiction made
fact. The bomb-camera footage Barrista showed was cool. The
body count, however, wasn’t.
Trivia: the Modern Salon?"
by Edison "Bucky" Tarkovsky
As sad as it is, the closest thing we have to the intellectual
salons of 18th Century Europe is, well, the local sports bar
on trivia night. But, Tarkovsky points out, we do have more
trivia to go around these days, and what could philosophy possibly
mean in the Information Age? The interactive game was a good
bit of audience participation, but despite the Amber Bock, we
discovered that we don’t know jack.
a God Thing: Martha Stewart, Max Weber and the Spirit of Capitalism
as Po-Mo Precept"
by P. Yur Itan
It all goes back to Calvin, of course, and "good thing"
mentality warped through the blood, sweat, and tear-stained
glass of the post-Reformation Church. Combine that with "doing
good by doing well," and you’ve got Martha Stewart
on a straight and narrow path leading directly to a confrontation
with the SEC. It’s morality vs. morality in a knock-down,
drag-out fight with the winners taking all. But, Iyun says Weber
says, ain’t that America? Maybe for you, but it ain’t
me. I will have to say that the complimentary sachets of home
made potpourri turned out to provide a nice dose of aromatherapy
as we hacked our way through the dry desert air.
Irrational 'Exuberation,' Fear, Daddy (#41), or What Motivates
by Allen Greepsnan
In an almost follow-up to O’Brien, Greepsnan looks more
closely at the patriarchal psychology of neo-conservative mind.
Because if Daddy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
of Mass Deduction: Bush’s 'Itty-Bitty' Tax Cut and the
Call for Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Understatement as Colloquial
Literature in White House Communications"
by Allyn Lo Mak
It’s almost a folk wisdom (except that folk wisdom usually
makes a certain amount of sense), but Lo Mak focuses on what
happens linguistically when a Kennebunkport yachtsman tries
to pass hisself off as a Texas cowboy. It’s even more
miraculous when he gets away with it. The sentence-diagraming
was tedious, but the down-home barbecue was delicious.
of Mass Construction: Halliburton’s Contract to Rebuild
Iraq and Images of Quasi-Governmental Agencies in Dickens’
by Girder N. Panel
One of the few papers presented at this year’s conference
to actually stoop to the level of mentioning literature, Panel’s
work had all the twists and complexities of Dickens combined
with the diction of the tax code. We didn’t get it; we
With the Sin: Kansas State Representative Susan Wagle’s
Attempt to Rewrite the Bible"
by Leah Rachel Jacobson
Fresh from her most recent skirmish in the Culture Wars, in
which she accused University of Kansas professor Dennis Dailey
of promoting pedophilia and using pornography in his Human Sexuality
class, Wagle takes on a much larger and thornier project: removing
the sin from the Bible. "The document’s only flaw
- and I and other right-minded people believe it is a liberal
plot - is that it’s full of sin," Jacobson quotes
Wagle as stating in a private interview. "All that Sodom
and Gomorrah stuff is just too much temptation for our young
people. If we take the sin out, the Bible will be the scripture
we know God intended it to be," Wagle goes on to say.
Jacobson’s presentation implied a disturbing question:
How much can you know before you cease being good?
Got Your 'Beaver Cleaver' Riiiight Here!' Double Entendre and
the Voice of Eddie Haskell"
by Andrew Dworkin Bautye
"That’s a nice pearl necklace, Mrs. Cleaver,"
Haskell was noted as saying. Sucking up or a reference to another,
seedier notion? Only when coupled with the rejoinder "I’d
like to have been the one to give it to you" do Haskell’s
true intentions become clear. Bautye’s multimedia presentation
featured DVD video of the 1950s sitcom intercut and morphed
with audio from ZZ Top and classic footage of Linda Lovelace
in action. Revealing, and another example of the need to conceal
sexuality in a repressive society. Nöel Coward had nothing
Vs. Elephant Art: A Postmodern Aesthetic Dilemma"
by Chuck Garfunkel
"Either you’re with us or against us," goes
the official line from the State Department. Revisionist logic,
says Garfunkel, and he’s got the sentential predication
to prove it. Of course, most of us couldn’t really follow
that, though it might explain a universe in which both Rumsfeld
and Osama bin Laden can be considered sex symbols (see above).
Gregory Peck, indeed, is dead. Book your tickets to France now:
perhaps the spirit of Voltaire still lurks in a coffeehouse
and Cookies: 'Nice Community People' Discover Reading"
by Verna P. Geldman
Average people -- some even without college degrees -- are
joining book clubs such as Oprah's and reading for sheer pleasure.
Geldman posits that when an activity becomes "just for
fun," the whole thing goes to "H-E-double hockeysticks"
quickly and fine upstanding citizens become victims of violence
such as drive-by poetry readings and severe paper cuts. "There's
truth behind the phrase 'to throw the book at you,' and that
book is often by Michener, and it hurts. But don't say I didn't
warn you." Geldman's presentation was notable mostly because
it had the most images of sadomasochistic sex per Power Point
slide. Carefully rationed milk (6 oz., no exceptions) and cookies
(oatmeal) were served without a smile.
Emaciation Proclamation: the Anorexic Mandate, So-Called Obesity
Epidemic, and a Confederacy of Munchies"
by Hugo Mahlerstein
It wasn’t the thesis we objected to, but that the free
samples of laxatives and ipecac seemed in poor taste.
Conclusions, Next Year
Plans include a larger medical presence. Other than that, as the ghost
of literature recedes into the background, we plan on an Irish wake
for its passing. Bloomsday seems a good time to do that, so an earlier
conference may be expected, though Dublin may be out of the question
as far as location goes: we still have had some trouble with their government
after Moira O’Mallet’s paper "The IRA as IRA: Terrorist
Groups as a Smart Way to Save" back in 1996 - and we’ve
been banned from the beginning in Boston. Preemptive preemptions aside,
next year’s conference, if this year’s attendance records
are any indication, looks to be another rousing success, provided we
can keep the casualty rate below 30%.
Since 2004 will be an election year, expect even more critical analysis
of spin-as-text, and, as always, a trend toward celebrity-as-semiotics.
As we’ve seen this year, we do not yet live in a post-PostModern
age; we’ve merely morphed it into mo’ Po-Mo.
Back to page 1: All the Good
Ideas are Already Quarantined