I woke up this morning intending to write a little bit and catch up on a pile of things to read on my desk. I accomplished neither thing, instead cleaning out my inbox (which is good as a bunch of things had been waiting) and dealing with an avalanche of administrativa (ditto, though today had a few special treats) — it seems that if you are in admin, the semester is beginning. Or at least it is for me. At least I appear to still be on pace for textual production, though I feel a certain tender precariousness setting in as the university awakens from its slumber. I think that’s a mixed metaphor.
Anyway, currently occupying my mind, apart from how best to explain compression for lay readers, is the fact that I have to write a short statement for an SCMS roundtable panel proposal on the future of sound studies. Now, I’m all for roundtables. They require less preparation than regular panels and they are usually great oppotunities to have smart people in conversation in a room. But I’m having trouble thinking about what it is I want for the future of sound studies. First, do I think it’s a field? No, not really. Second, do I think it should have a direction? No, because if people did what I told them to, then I’d probably be bored. (Not that there’s a chance of getting people to do what I tell them to.) Hmmmm. This kind of thing is supposed to be easy, right?
Tonight begins a week of no guests in the apartment, before Carrie’s dad arrives to begin the final wave. It might just be weird to have nobody sleeping in the music room. Right now, we’re off for some good Mexican food with a couple friends in from out of town. . .
Roundtables have been getting on my nerves. You’ve done and been to more of them than I have. But there’s something about the format, having organized one last year, that seems to invite half-assedness. Still, they are easier.
(Saw your comment on KDD’s entry, BTW. That inspired me to comment. I get so caught up in LJ that it’s hard to remember that I can’t just passively read elsewhere.)
Do you think roundtable panels are considerably more half-assed than regular conference panels? I actually like the unfinished feel of a lot of conference presentations. I’m more comfortable with it, at least, than when I read a book or article and think “wouldn’t this have been better with another revision?”
That’s a good question. I tend to perform redemptive critique wherever I turn, even against my will, so I find the missing ass half in everything from three line e-mails to scholarly monographs. I do resent wasting my time, however. But I define “wasting” differently than most academics I know. I’d rather read something provocative and idea-inspiring than airtight. On the other hand, I’d rather that that provocative and idea-inspiring something be short. 200 pages of sloppy goodness are 150 more than I’m likely to read.
No, I’m right there with you. I tend to prefer provocative to air-tight myself. But the thing is that a lot of people who think they are being provocative are actually just repeating stuff that’s been said a million times before. Air-tight can be useful if I’m looking for something specific, but it will never excite or inspire.
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