The institute is over. However, much like reaching the object of your desire constitutes the disappearance of jouissance according to Lacan, the much fetishized end of sleeplessness, of dealing with annoying bureaucracy and of generally constantly worrying about doing a decent job organizing this conference ultimately reveals itself as lacking the previously imagined enjoyment. I am still completely exhausted but I woke up this morning and was bored. I do have a whole lot of stuff to do (I have to write and send in the encyclopedia entry today and then get back to articles and dissertation) but the sudden end to hyper-stress is somewhat of a let-down.
In part this may also be due to the fact that this year’s institute was fantastic and simply a great time I will remember fondly for a long time to come. Yes, as organizers we had to deal with a lot of annoying shit but that is always the case. The good thing about all this was that, as far as we know, it did not interfere with people’s fun. Generally speaking, it seemed as though people had a good time and in the end that is really all that matters (and already yesterday afternoon most of the annoying shit began to transform itself into hilarious anecdotes).
As far as the actual conference goes, the presentations were generally very interesting and the level of intellectual production was enjoyably high (with only very few exceptions that shall remained unnamed). Similarly, the Capital reading group was VERY productive and it was good to see so many people participate in it. The highlight of the conference was doubtlessly (as expected) Fredric Jameson’s seminar on the dialectic during which I was frequently distracted by thoughts such as: “I cannot believe I am sitting right next to Jameson while he is discussing the dialectic with us.” The talk he gave was essentially a quick run-through of his newest book Valences of the Dialectic, which, according to Jameson, might be out relatively soon. He said he will give the final draft to the publisher by this fall and the release should happen not too long after that. On a personal note regarding Jameson: he came up to me after my talk while I was smoking outside, told me that he liked my paper/project and gave me some additional ideas/references–my reaction was basically to smile, nod, say “thank you so much” about 12 times and try not to pee my pants with excitement (which might not have shown, since Intelligentsia gave us a leaky coffee container in the morning and so my pants had already been stained with roughly a quart of coffee since 7:30 am–but peeing one’s pants while talking to Jameson is probably still not a good idea)–in a way my reaction was very similar to my interaction with the tribunal I had to face in order to get the German government to allow me to substitute a 13-month alternative service for the mandatory 10-month military service–well, my reaction was similar but I have to say the talk with Jameson was ultimately a lot more enjoyable (and incomparably more meaningful to me).
I will now get back to writing and will probably pass out early tonight–I am still not quite caught up on sleep. I am sure I will think of more interesting info regarding to conference and may post this at a later point but I just wanted to write something in between today’s writing project since I didn’t get the chance to post for the duration of the MLG.