Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What Aqueductians Look Like

I've just downloaded the photos I took at my first ever science fiction convention, WisCon 32; and, fortuitously,
32 of them came out looking good. I wunna share a few with our readers. Below is a photo of Aqueduct staffer Kath Wilham, displaying a copy of Maureen and Timmi's Plugged In. I first "met" Kath in a phone conversation sixteen years ago --she was seeing a college friend of mine-- but had never seen her in person until this weekend. It is only thanks to Kath that I know about Timmi Duchamp, and it is largely thanks to the political acumen Kath displayed in our phone conversations that I remained a feminist sympathizer throughout the stresses of my college years. Below Kath is Aqueduct staffer Tom Duchamp, a great professor and assiduous laborer who's a tad absent-minded at distinguishing between things and knowing what they are called: I teased him with "I bet you don't even know the name of Dhalgren's protagonist!"

Aqueduct had me rooming with the great editor, administrator, fan, and author Nisi Shawl, a fellow midwesterner who seemed to like my sense of humor; we are together above. Further above, Nisi bonds with the great proletarian novelist, teacher, and Ohioan Maureen F. McHugh, whose Guest of Honor status was richly deserved.

On the Milwaukee-to-Madison leg of my flight out I sat beside the indefatigable Andrea Hairston, a drama professor, critic, and novelist whose performances at panels and readings left everyone awestruck. She is speaking on the left at the "It's Not About Identity" panel. Below, Timmi looks uneasily at Texan martial-arts expert and Aqueduct writer Nancy Jane Moore.


Timmi Duchamp said...

I just now questioned Tom as to whether he knows the name of the protagonist of Dhalgren, and he said "Of course not!" When I then gave him the name, he said, "Oh yeah, that's right." As you may have noticed, Josh, although Tom has read a lot of novels, conversation on any particular one of them can be tough-- you have to first establish which novel is being discussed and then remind him of all the names of the characters before any meaningful discussion can proceed. This applies, of course, to my own fiction.

Josh said...

I'm really surprised, Timmi, that you know the name of the protagonist of Dhalgren, as the point of my "teasing" remark in the blog entry is that the novel, like Invisible Man and Apex Hides the Hurt, never reveals that name; indeed, Kid's unresolved quest for his name is a major plot point.

Timmi Duchamp said...

Ah but Josh, I hadn't thought you were talking about Kid's proper name. Do you mean to say your view on names and things is closer to Tom's than to mine?

Josh said...

You mean, am I a realist or a nominalist? Sriram Nambiar, whom I spoke glowingly of to Vandana the other day, asked me something like that years ago; and I couldn't answer.

But thinking about it, I'm afraid that Borges was right: anyone cursed with a memory like mine is going to be as nominalist as Funes. To take the Platonist side, you need the ability to ignore all the "accidents," at least provisionally; and I do the opposite. Which pisses people off --whenever Tracy makes a generalization about literature, my immediate impulse is to look for exceptions, and I end up sounding condescending and gotchaesque.

I appreciate names aesthetically a lot. But Dhalgren kind of wants its readers to start out thinking that names (Kid's, the title character's) matter in the world, so that it can disabuse them of that notion, right?