A good friend of mine, Craig Greenman, used to wax utopian about Loyola Beach in Chicago. Loyola Beach, said Craig, was a non-striated space, and he was right. People from all walks of life congregated there. I lived on Morse Avenue at the time, in Roger’s Park, just off Sheridan. It was one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago, with a diverse Indian, Eastern European, Jewish, Hispanic, Muslim, and African-American community. And Loyola Beach? We all congregated there, the poor and the wealthy, the educated and the uneducated, all different groups, religions, economic strata, and ethnicities. The fourth of July was a sight to behold. Fireworks would explode. Everyone would cook out. The air would be filled with smoke from burning fireworks and campfires. Everyone was welcome even though it was Babel, even though we didn’t speak the same language. We all strolled and laughed with one another.
Often I find myself waxing utopian about this community that we’ve formed. I’ve always dreamt of a new Agora, of an empty space where discourse takes place. Will all of this have been anything? What will my encounters with N.Pepperell, Jodi Dean, Lars, K-Punk, Anthony Paul Smith, Infinite Thought or Nina, Aleatorist, Yusef, Orla, PEBird, Scott Eric Kaufmann, Foucault is Dead, Blah-Feme, Dejan, Fido the Yak, Ken Rufo, Dr. X, Susan, and all the others have been about? Here we have a non-striated space where difference in academics, orientations, and backgrounds fall into the shadows and where we speak freely. Will the trace of our speech have been preserved? Will we have done anything at all? Will we have accomplished anything at all? I try to cultivate a cynical and pessimistic attitude in all things, weaving myself as suspicious of all utopian aspirations, yet it is difficult for me not to be enthusiastic about our discourses.