An Interlude

Right, well as long as I’m in a plaintive vein, a threnodic vein, a sorrowful, plangent, mournful, whingey vein – I think I’ll just take a moment to ponder the grief of living in an out of the way corner of the world. And corner it is, too; tucked or rather jammed up in the far far far northwest corner of the whole damn country, not on the way to anywhere except Alaska (and maybe Japan but only if you’re starting from Idaho). It’s not Los Angeles, it’s not San Francisco, and it sure as hell is not New York or Paris or London. It’s not central. It’s not a capital. It’s not a place where things happen and interesting people sooner or later end up, so that one can just walk out the door at a leisurely pace, no need to rush, stroll along to the tube and in a few minutes be chatting with, I don’t know, Umberto Eco or Yo-yo Ma over lunch.

Well, yes it is, actually. People do come here. It could be much worse. It could be Puyallup or Sequim (you don’t know how to pronounce either of those, and I’m not going to tell you), to which people really don’t go. But people do come here on book tours and lecture circuits. And besides, it was my idea to come here, I wasn’t dragged here in chains. And I like it here. It’s just that –

Well it’s just that my insufferable colleague and his colleague are having lunch (have already had it by now, unless they opted for a very very late lunch, more like pre-dinner, or high tea) with Alan Sokal today. And I’m not. I’m over here, in this hick town, facing the stupid Pacific, missing all the action. And I am devoured by jealousy. Consumed by it. It is so unfair. There they are giggling and chewing and telling jokes about Lacan’s mathematics and Butler’s transgressions, and there I’m not. It is so unfair!

It’s not, of course, it’s not a bit unfair. And it’s also not geographical. If I were there, would I be there? No! Because I wouldn’t be invited, because there’d be no reason for me to be. So it’s not in the least unfair, and I know that perfectly well. But I’m just so jealous. So I’m having an Unreasonable Moment. You don’t think I’m always rational do you? No, of course you don’t.

No, I just thought I would pine a bit, to relieve my feelings. Sokal is something of a hero to people who dislike Fashionable Nonsense. Well he is to me anyway. The parody was such a brilliant idea, and he carried it out so well, and it worked so beautifully, and it made them all look so silly and self-serving – how could one not admire? So one does, and one wishes one could have been there, to ask the great question of our times: why do Americans like pizza with pineapple on it? But I’m an adult, and semi-rational some of the time, so I’ll get over it. I just wanted to pine first.

Update. Just to clarify, by way of making sure no one misunderstands. That is of course mostly joke. It’s quite true that I’d have loved to be there, but that’s all. I’m not really pouting. Sobbing gently now and then, but not pouting.

Second update. You’ll be pleased to learn that my guess was right – they really did laugh about Lacan’s mathematics. I’m clairvoyant.

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