Statutory Warning: If you are not one of the strange birds called academics, the following post might make you whistle and say who gives a fuck. Mind you, academics do. And, some of them might still content analyse your vocabulary.
Conference in a lovely small town in the small island which goes by the name England.
We are talking about laughter and being radical. Academics take stuff like radical/political very seriously. In case the revolution arrives through the backdoor and social media, we wouldn't want to be counted among the aristocracy of pen pushers (with no sizeable incomes unless you are a Professor Emeritus or something similar in the food chain).
Let me introduce the cast.
White Man 1: Is apparently the leading light in continental philosophy. While continental breakfast might have lost its sheen as a result of Indian/Mexican/Chinese or something else, continental philosophy has not yet reached any such lowly plight. Along with other White Philosophies, it remains the only worthwhile thinking to get at what the powers that be call knowledge/understanding.
(Stuff which prompted Dipesh Chakrabarty to talk about the need to provincialize Europe and Hamid Dabashi to ponder about whether non-Europeans can think)
So, White Man 1 carefully unentangles the thought of our master thinker Deleuze to interconnected webs which can trap a potato in Rhizome. The pearls of wisdom which condescends to fall from his throat lights up the nooks and corners of White Philosophy. His hands move around with the grace of a dancer. He also comes down to get his hands dirty by casting the net of pragmatics to catch and form categories in movement. Unadulterated Great White Thinking spotlessly clean from similar notions which have existed around the world. Here, it might be worthwhile to glance at the rage of an indigenous woman academic while she listened to another Great White Thinker Latour talk about ideas which have all the while existed in indigenous thought without giving even a cursory acknowledgement to them. The problem is that while prophetic wisdoms dawn on Great White Philosophers, they never look for any non-white thinking which might have similar notions. And, the problem is also that people ranging from Buddha and Nagarjuna to the Incas forgot to leave citations about the Great White Thinkers who will appear on earth centuries later to provide revelations.
Now, let us move to our next character.
White Man 2
Our man has not yet reached the stature of White Man 1 in the field of White Philosophy. But, he is already high and mighty enough to be a keynote speaker. In a short while, after the BIG BOOK, he too will become a leading light of White Philosophy. Meanwhile, he spends the precious time he has got with White Man 1 to compare notes. He mentions about scholarly hotel musings during his lecture and constantly sends a notion or two to White Man 1 for greater clarification. Seated among the audience, White Man 1 carefully catches and unentangles these notions and sends them back with masterly approval.
White Man 2 informs us about the visions our master Deleuze has had about present day societies of control. Never ask what society, whose or where. Because, 'present time' is Great White Time. All the browns, blacks, yellows, reds etc. are running hard to reach that time. White Man 2 is also reflexive and talks about white privilege and his own place in it. But, these acknowledgements have nothing to do with philosophy since thinking is a burden of white men.
After the keynote, White Man 2 sits through and yawns at presentations which do not have a rhizome in them. And, he asks the enthu cutlet speaker who wants to get at political mobilizations whether we (white philosophers) should take up audience studies. That is a kick in the balls because philosophers do not do 'vulgar' audience studies.
I leave feeling a bit sad about the revolution which this white radical/political thought is going to bring. The sadder thing is that I won't even be able to laugh at it because the terms for laughter are already set. Begin from Plato/Aristotle (leave out the brown Arab thought which might have contaminated it during Europe's 'dark' ages). Have a stopover with Kant, may be Freud or Bergson and reach a climax with Deleuze or some one similar.
But I feel better remembering the joke of another presenter.
"How do you know whether it is a fake Messiah or the real one?
The real Messiah never arrives"
"How do you know whether it is a real revolution?
Real revolution never happens"