Thursday, 5 July 2012

Je m'en fou

You are reading. Not speaking, not presenting, just repeating words I don't understand and pronouncing names I have never heard of.

Before, there was another you, tracing words on paper with your index finger, like a child learning to read, although your beard is salt 'n pepper and your hair getting there. Dark hair, dark jeans, dark long-sleeved T-shirt and dark-rimmed glasses, everything is dark. You talk about the artist's book and heteroglossia and dialogism and Un coup de dès jamais n'abolira le hasard and synaesthesia and again, I don't understand what you want to say. Not even the French makes sense.

A third you follows, old and preachy, constantly scratching something behind your ear. An inability to go back a slide in Power Point makes me wonder who made the show. It is humorous and embarrassing, this inability to present what you should have prepared. Saying things like "Oi lurve dis gui", "dese old fuddyduddies" and "Aur fryend Nietzsche/Schiller/Schopehauer/Kant" (and, faux-pas, Hitler) whilst fumbling with the controls and the slides and the music makes you a figure of ridicule and not respect. I'd write 'weak' in red on your work with a permanent marker.

What is the point of conferences if all anyone does is out-quote another and aim to prove that they know more than the speaker. Networking and making new contacts is high on my hatred list because it is done not out of a genuine interest in meeting people, but out of an interest in personal profit. I watched my father network and skipping anyone who was of no gain to him. I watched the other diplomats do the same: "Oh, you are from (insert 3rd world country)? Excuse me, I have something to discuss with the American/French/Chinese ambassador". And today I watched the conference attendees to it, too. All this pretentious "it's who you know not what you know" stands diametrically opposed to a liberal, supportive, respectful exchange of information.    

Today was a spectacle of mutual ego-stroking, self-promotion and over-analysing art, not of Visual Dialogues: South Africa in conversation.


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