Why? Why Do I Attend Such – fugetaboutit …

1) When one is young and dumb, one thinks that decorum, etiquette and (to summarize it) the Form (of social association, conversation etc.) is for others, and just there to be ignored, ridiculed and maybe “transgressed” (yep, if you are an intellectual snob. I confess to have been a terrible snob. The step to slob is small I guess.).
Later one will start to make concessions, possibly because one understands that the constant kicks in the derrière are directly related to terrible behaviour; depending on individual factors, this may take some time.
In a later stage of life one may come to the realisation that Form (besides money and emotion) is the glue that keeps our civilisation together; that what we call culture, “Kultur”, is in fact (among other things, depends of your point of view) a well-balanced construction regulating inclusion and exclusion for example by the Form, it’s performance   and participation. (Emotion may fissure Form. Or strengthen it.) This is only a very bad translation of something I formulated in German when I tried myself on a definition on culture – it was not successful of course; and a long time ago.
Nevertheless, over the course of your life (at least over the course of MY life) one (= Me) understands that the Form is not only necessary, but essential. I am often criticised for not following the Form, not looking professional enough for example, and I confess that I (still) take liberties. But only and strictly in relation to myself, not in relation to others who are in some way linked with me. At least that is my line of argumentation.

2) Let’s assume you take part in a yearly gathering. It’s a bit specialised, for people who run a certain kind of institution (like f.e. an archive or a museum or a library or something like that) in a defined geographical area; you are associated with this group because you know some of them from the days of study and because you are working in this field; whatever you are doing, you are one of them.  I think you got what I mean.
You went to these congregations for some time, annually, and saw different places and different ways how the yearly host presented himself. Sometimes it may have been a bit “over the top”, too much culinary effort and less intellectual input; or maybe the host was in charge of a really beautiful building or surrounding area – and relied a bit too much on the outer splendor, and less on the inner enlightenment – anyway: What you always found was a minimum of civilised form, even in the smallest and poorest venue.

3) Its held in the central museum of the region, the directrice is mentioning the importance of her house in the first sentence. It’s in one of the main halls of the house, with its widely known difficulties regarding sound and speaking (it’s all stone!); nevertheless, one of the most representative places; sometimes the university uses it for her gatherings. It’s a common thing that in the middle of the morning there’s a coffee break.
It’s not a common thing that two plastic jugs of coffee are stored on a ramshackle camping table (!), that you have to grab a cardboard cup – courtesy of Coca Cola – and a pasteboard for a piece of junk cake that you finally have to eat with your fingers because the plastic forks are all out.
Then you listen to a “presentation” of a “Referent” who is too dumb to start video sequences and soundbites while he is referring about “new media in museums” – but it’s eh’ für’n Arsch, because the man talks that fast, without noticeable accentuation right into the absolutely nonsensical microphone (It’s all stone here, remember? So you absolutely NEED a BIG speaker, yeah!) so that nobody has a real chance to understand what he “says”. No riot, simply because he’s “the important man from Munich”, and everybody has plans to enter the bloke afterwards over lunch. And everybody wants it to end asap.
Two ladies speak (keeping good distance from the microphone); it makes sense; and after ten minutes it’s over.
Finally the lady of the house clomps up. She speaks. It’s better than what I heard some years ago; technically better, because she learned a) to open her dumb mouth and form a sound, and b) to accept and embark herself on the circumstances. But what she said … a colleague and me were looking at each other in sheer horror (on my side) and quiet resignation (on his side). Truths were revealed. New media may consume time. It may cost *argl* money! And when you decide to use applepear, you are bound to use applepear for the rest of your life.
GOd damn!
Groundbreaking.
I really ask myself on what planet this person lives. I guess she never returned from a camping trip. Dame Maggie Smith says in a small film (80s?) about someone: “Yes, you are right. You are not someone. You re some thing.” I’m sorry, I could not find it.

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13 thoughts on “Why? Why Do I Attend Such – fugetaboutit …

  1. Meetings. Uggh. Most of those I attended whilst working were an utter non-productive waste of time. I tried to avoid them whenever possible.

    Several high-tech companies I worked for were all about meetings. Endless meetings. Most of them are no longer in business. Coincidence?

  2. The conference you describe reminds me of one I went to last year. Dull, functional architecture, but good facilities inside. The penultimate session was a toe-curlingly embarrassing “paper” (I use the word loosely) by one of the pioneers in my field; I was really looking forward to it.

    Oh dear, oh dear. An exploration of the “spiritual dimension” in our subject turned out to be a rambling, self-absorbed, semi-improvised autobiographical narrative about how she coped with the loss of her husband a few years ago, which has clearly elbowed out all her contributions to the study of X in her head.

    It was not something suitable for an academic conference. And it was very difficult for us to get her to stop: the mixture of respect for her past works, and a sympathy with her bereavement, made for an awkward combination.

  3. One wonders … say, do you know the name of Dilbert’s company, LX? They have endless meetings too, but never go out of business. Must be the Wally-effect – ?

    Oh, that is terrible, what you describe Looby. To watch a one of the pioneers or esteemed masters of the field crumbling away is cruel. Thankfully my former master still has all his marbles together, and is still busy writing and publishing; but less travelling now.
    The two people yesterday were simply bad. The first one was in no way aware of the circumstances and delivered a badly prepared unenthusiastic “presentation”. The second one crawled on subterranean niveau. Together with the “buffet” it expressed very well the estimation for the colleagues in the “other” houses who are so privileged to be allowed to form a network with the central gem of collections of nationwide interest – onwards went the self-loving waffle …
    The two ladies in the middle were a journalist and the head of a school. They spoke clearly, understandable and brought over their message in ten minutes. They used the same equipment like the others, soundbites and some few images, and it simply worked.
    At least I had a nice chat with a colleague and received the pre-print (Sonderdruck) of a new interesting essay.

  4. I am rubbish at etiquette and ‘form’… I can do it well for a short time, but then I go tit up. Literally on occasion.
    Meanwhile, would I be right in assuming that you were at some sort of orgy, judging from the line “and everybody has plans to enter the bloke afterwards over lunch”…..????
    Sx

  5. Honey – you were missed! I’m very glad to see you back, MsScarlet. No normal orgy, dear Scarlet; the person just took over a certain function in the stately administration that entitles him to wave around a chequebook; As I see it he is very new in this job; so basically he could have stood there impersonating Old Knudsen, he’d have raked in applause, and over lunch they will try to make contact and obeisances …

  6. Young man, you would love the annual grannies’ gatherings.

    – Etiquette: nightie and bedroom slippers. It is compulsory to bring glasses and dentures, if needed.
    – Dissertations: are varied and usually dealing about ailments, grandchildren, pensions, and TV shows (those who can remember them and are not on a Grim Reaper tour).

    Now seriously, my advice: keep in your memory the positive part of this professional conference of yours: you had an interesting chat with a colleague and received a preprint of an interesting essay. The rest was rubbish, especially the lady against new media (in that Stone room she seems to be living in the Stone Age, HAHAHAHA)

    Wouldn’t you like sometimes to have a remote control to turn some people off. I DO!!!

  7. Oh dear, I’m sorry i forgot to type the question mark at the end of my last sentence! I hope it makes sense (Jeezzz I’m getting senile… 😦

  8. A lack of etiquette is merely for those people who are unaware that one should wear socks just once before discarding. Oh, and of course anyone who buys French cheese wrapped in plastic.

  9. Last night I dreamed that I was at a meeting. I fell asleep and the boss was very upset with me. Frankly, I didn’t care.

    I have designed my work life to attend as few meetings as possible.

  10. HA – you are deteriorating by the minute Hipster Yaya! Now it’s just a question mark … seriously, loosing the marbles one by one, and realizing it (!) must be a terrible experience.

    That is some interesting object – thank You for the link LX. And of course (!) based on the classic Braun-design (think Phonosuper). Remarkable find!

    Pay for yourself in the Wirtschaft … there is a pretty large Gastronomie. It would have been a snap to ask the Geschäftsführer for cups and cakes …

    I always thought French cheese comes under the War Weapons Control Act …

    I think of you as a very private person, Mistress MJ.

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