Friday, March 29, 2013

SCMS/AAS 2013: An Informal Reflection

... just had a chance to catch up with great friends at the Association for Asian Studies conference in San Diego last week ... I'm becoming, or like being, a conference junkie -- including collecting those free journals, brochures, bookmarks, and all that colorful paraphernalia of academia that reminds me (perhaps) of going to boat, trailer, and sport shows as a kid with my father.

And with the right state of mind, just to hear professors and writers describe what's been going on currently is enlivening: new research, preliminary conclusions, fresh ideas/ re-evaluation of old ones.

On a broad-scale, these people we hear and meet and present with at these conferences aren't that famous, or maybe as famous as they could be, and it's a shame they're not. They fly under the radar, not household names. So, just as much as I love sports, I would hope for equivalent exposure for these academics who think, uncover, and discover culture/media/history with the same intensity as (insert favorite athlete or team).

Like flipping through the sports channels -- when not every match-up is that intriguing -- sometimes, similarly, these SCMS or AAS conferences can have some real duds -- put-you-to-sleep, read-straight-from-the-paper-with-no-eye-contact doozies. But it is the opportunity afforded by these events that makes a lasting impression.

At the least, there is a space where people can agree to disagree, and to speak while consistently citing their sources --

-- sometimes it seems like this practice of citing sources is all I can find to differentiate the so-called, fictional divide that separates the "real world" from the "ivory tower" of academia. Is it the fact that academics cite their sources that raises ire against "idiotic professors" as described in this article: "Fox News Host Greg Gutfeld Compares Student Environmental Activists To 'Radical Islamists'"? Anyways, I can't always put my finger on why professors/ university students in the U.S. are considered outside of the "real world" when they use their God-given minds responsibly...

Mario Trono, in his SCMS presentation, described how film previews are like drug hits, concentrated doses of a movie's best. Overall, these conferences are like that -- we might get that intellectual boost, then go away inspired, cite new sources, and start writing.

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 Conference swag bag.

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