Friday, August 18, 2006

The Modern Conference


The modern conference resembles the pilgrimage of medieval Christendom in that it allows the participants to indulge themselves in all the pleasures and diversions of travel while appearing to be bent on self-improvement. To be sure, there are certain penitential exercises to be performed—the presentation of a paper, perhaps, and certainly listening to the papers of others. But with this excuse you journey to new and interesting places, meet new and interesting people, and form new and interesting relationships with them; exchange gossip and confidences (for your well-worn stories are fresh to them, and vice versa); eat, drink and make merry in their company every evening; and yet, at the end of it all, return home with an enhanced reputation for seriousness of mind.

From David Lodge, Small World: An Academic Romance (1984).

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Hilarious. We need a new Chaucer to write The Conference Centre Tales. There could be the Tenured Professor's Tale, the Associate Professor's Tale, the Post-Doc's Tale, etc.