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The Mainly Annual EastWesterly Review/Postmodern Village Conference 2003

Conference Papers, a Select Review

Karma Cammile Eyun"Atom 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.

Jen D.R. Bender"Adam 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 corset.

Mike "Ron" Leville"Surviving 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?

Pietro Rojas"Sammy 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!

"Little" Stevie Hocking"Doug Llewelyn: The People’s Case for Victims of Maverick Black Holes"
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.

Merck N. Pfizer"Viagrancy: Consumer Carpetbagging: Bob Dole and the Age of Post-Political Hucksterism"
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.

Michael "Moby" Malkovitch"What’s Your Frequency, Kenneth? The Relative Hunkiness of the "Big" Three News Anchors vs. Donald Rumsfeld, Sex Symbol"
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.

P.B. Wombat"The 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.

Onan O'Brien"Divining 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.

E.W. Wilder"PopWash 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?

Hugh Hosier"DeGrassi 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!

Dolly Madgison"Early Cloning Experiments: The Patty Duke Show"
by Dolly Madgison

Who knew?

Charles Barrista"BlowbackWash: 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.

Edison "Bucky" Tarkovsky"Bar 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.

P. Yur Itan"It’s 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.

Allen Greepsnan"Iraq-No-Phobia: Irrational 'Exuberation,' Fear, Daddy (#41), or What Motivates W."
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.

Allyn Lo Mak"Weapons 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.

Girder N. Panel"Weapons of Mass Construction: Halliburton’s Contract to Rebuild Iraq and Images of Quasi-Governmental Agencies in Dickens’ Bleak House"
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 meta-got it.

Leah Rachel Jacobson"Gone 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?

Andrew Dworkin Bautye"'I 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 on Haskell.

Chuck Garfunkel"Monkey-Art 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 there.

Verna P. Geldman"Teasdale 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.

Hugo Mahlerstein"The 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