Monday, September 21, 2015

Modalities 2015, Tim Morton, Rice University, Houston...and me; You Should Present Papers Too

Upon becoming aware of this terrific symposium put on by Tim's grad students at Rice, I did the following:

1. Developed an idea I'd been working with into a paper.
2. Sent Annie, Laura & Mallory an abstract. They organized the thing, and are three of the most wonderful people I've ever met.
3. Got accepted.
4. Freaked out because I couldn't fantasize about it anymore, but really had to do it.
5. On the best academic advice ever (I raise my glass to Tim), edited the paper (he said "trust the audience to ask questions to fill in stuff you don't include").
6. Flew to Houston.
7. Met dozens of incredibly intelligent and wonderful people with whom it turns out I have much in common & got to have fun conversations with them on high crystalline-level subjects I never get to discuss with anyone, ever.
8. Met Tim Morton, an experience too excellent to describe that makes me ponder on the possibility of contemporaneous reincarnation: everything we had to say to each other resulted in a "Dude, no way, me too!" type of synchrony.
9. Listened to two days of jaw-droppingly fascinating presentations.
10. Experienced Houston...well, really just the area around Rice and Rice Village, which is utterly my kinda weather, swirlingly diverse and a bit like walking around the forest set from the movie The Dark Crystal in terms of wildlife, with all sorts of mysterious critters scuttling and chirping to each other in the green shade (are they mammals, birds, reptiles...what?), incredibly cheap and good food, etc.
11. Presented my paper, and these brilliant people liked it. The keynote speaker, Dr. Marjorie Levinson, Huetwell Professor of English at U. Michigan, told me she loved my writing.
12. Decided to pursue a PhD in English.

If anyone reads this, please pass this on. If you have ever wanted to do anything like this but thought you just couldn't, you should, because you can. Find stuff that interests you, start talking about it with people online, keep an eye out for calls for papers, and write stuff. It will change your life. The internet has opened up potential doors for everyone to unlock dreams, and one's simply a fool if one doesn't take advantage of it.

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