Amen, Kurt. Lethem was great, but that Q&A was extremely discouraging. It went from initially combative to totally pompous, neither of which are a good look for a Q&A. Extra low scores go to the dude with the self-aggrandizing preamble about Philip K Dick that had nothing to do with his question, the old white guy who told the young black man what the term clown meant for black people as opposed to white people, and the woman who wanted to discuss the cross-cultural appearances of the trickster figure (though she retains some points for not explicitly mentioning Raven or Coyote). Bonus points for the kid who asked if Lethem though Kurt Cobain may have been murdered.
it didnt strike me as a joke at first, but the more i reflected on it, the more i believed that kid asking about cobain mustve been bullshitting the bullshitter, which was great. totally caught the room off-guard and called out the self-seriousness of the whole thing.
I couldn't agree more. I hate jargon, especially trendy jargon. At least the phrase "rockism" is starting to lose currency. At the conference a few years ago, it was all anyone could talk about, and yet it's one of those insider terms that only serves to exclude people who aren't already part of "the club" (however you choose to define that term, i.e. music critics, academics, etc.). I think all general interest writing should be inclusive on some level. For anyone who wasn't there, "the old white guy" to whom Eric refers was Robert Christgau. I thought his point was a good one, but he made it in a presumptious manner, which negated much of its value.
The next day at the conference I realized that was Christgau (I'd never seen him in person before). For a second I felt weird about having called him out, but then I thought about it, and I realized that even the Dean should know better than to tell someone what a word means to people of their ethnicity (or gender or class. Even if it's essentially a valid point.
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