Well, I’m back and exhausted. The interviews went exceptionally well and I think I performed better than I ever have. Hopefully I’ll land some on campus interviews, but if this doesn’t come to pass I’m giving myself the narrative that the schools were simply looking for something very specific or that I have some tick that they couldn’t bear. I go away knowing that regardless of what happens I did my best.
This was one of those conferences where everything just seemed to fall into place. I hadn’t gotten assigned seating for the plane when buying the tickets and asked if there were any aisle seats towards the front of the plane, only to be given seat 1D. Front row joe. When I got to the hotel they apologized for having to change my room and told that they had to upgrade my room to a concierge suite free of charge. I was definitely infuriated by this… Not.
The conference was a truly enjoyable experience. The first night there I got to meet with my old dissertation director, Andrew Cutrofello, to prep for the interviews. It was great to see him and mostly we just chatted about the different things we’re working on. I was talking a mile a minute and fear that I might have broken his ear. It seems that everywhere I went I struck up random conversations with people. I went to lunch the first day with one of my colleagues at my current position and a group of his old graduate school friends. There I had the pleasure of meeting Farhang Erfani who created the fantastic blog Continental Philosophy. When I heard him mention his blog I said “I know you!” and told him that he had archived some of my own writing here. He exclaimed “you’re Larval Subjects!?!” And I said “Yes, I’m Sinthome in the flesh!” I felt as if I should have a special t-shirt with an “S” or “L” inscribed on it and a mask. We had a terrific conversation about Sartre and Lacan’s connections to Sartrean thought that I hope to continue in the future.
The next day I met a nice woman in the elevator who seemed to take a shine to me as I live in Texas where much of her family lives. As it turns out, her husband organized the entire conference and she asked me for my card so he could help me out with my job search in any way possible. I’m not quite sure why she made this gesture as I didn’t talk about any of my research, but it was nice nonetheless. Last night I had a terrific time talking to a Palestinian brother and sister from Texas in the bar (he was a political scientist presenting on Levinas and she’s an environmental attorney now living in D.C.). Around four this morning the fire alarm went off and we all had to evacuate the hotel (which turned out to be nice as I got to see Patricia Huntington who was on my dissertation committee and met a number of interesting philosophers). Somehow a couch had caught on fire and water was dripping through the ceiling of the lobby and down the elevator shafts. We didn’t get to return to our rooms until 6am (those on the 6th and 7th floor couldn’t return until 7 or 8), but it was one of those magical moments where all social inhibitions and heirarchies are lifted and everyone talks to everyone. Nonetheless, I feel sorry for those who had to interview today.
While there I finally got to meet Miguel de Beistegui, author of the brilliant Truth and Genesis: Philosophy as Differential Ontology. For those who are not yet familiar with this work, this is a brilliant piece of philosophy, spanning the deadlocks of what he calls “ousiology” or substance based metaphysics of presence from Parmenides to Husserl, and showing how Heidegger and Deleuze formulate a differential ontology that escapes these deadlocks (Deleuze here being the hero). In my view, this work sets a new benchmark for Deleuze scholarship and is one of a handful of genuinely philosophical studies of his work (which is thankfully free of that “tone” that characterizes so much work on Deleuze). I was pleased to see Dan Smith and Constantin Boundas, and both of them gave excellent critical talks over de Beistegui’s work that also expressed admiration and envy. Unfortunately I had to leave a bit early to meet a friend, so I didn’t get to hear all of de Beistegui’s replies, though it’s clear that we can expect great and original work from him in the future. Sadly I was unable to attend Richard Boothby’s talk, whose work I deeply admire as it’s one of the few engagements with Freud and Lacan that situates psychoanalysis in terms of its ontological and epistemic significance rather than simply its ethical and political significance as in the case of the critics of ideology. I was also pleased to pick up a copy of DeLanda’s new book on social ontology for half the price at the book exhibit, that looks very good (I’m about halfway through it and it’s all about the social in terms of networks and assemblages, resonating nicely with my obsession with slime molds a few months ago).
The trip cost an arm and a leg (apparently there’s no food in D.C. that is less than $23), but I come away feeling refreshed and invigorated… Though I missed all of you a good deal. Thank you so much for your support and kind words preceding the trip.