Back in the days of my mis-spent youth, my idea of fun was fairly conventional. Woodstock’s “three days of peace and music” sounded like a pretty good time. Now, as a sign of how much I have embraced what Epicurus would have considered life’s superior pleasures,* here’s an example of the sort of thing that really turns me on. Yesterday, I got a really nifty, full-size poster featuring the artwork of Remedios Vara, a kind of 20th-century Hieronymus Bosch: his “Spiral Transit.” (The .pdf doesn’t really do it justice.) The poster is an advertisement for a free, three-day conference on The Ethics and Epistemologies of Ignorance, sponsored by – no kidding! – the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. It promises “A multidisciplinary dialogue exploring the ethical, political, and epistemological implications of the conscious and unconscious production of ignorance as it impacts practices of domination, exploitation, and oppression.” Bitchin’, dude!
A look at the program reveals plenty of rockin’ sessions. You can groove to talk-fests on “Obesity” as Ignorance: Medical Ideologies and the Fat Acceptance Movement; Schooled in Silence — Panel Presentation; White Identity, White Ignorance; Willful Ignorance: The Blissful Addiction; Aestheticed Ignorance; Farming Made Her Stupid; The Entwined Ignorance of Oppressor and Oppressed; Computers, the Production of Ignorance, and the Ecology of Knowledge; Untitled; etc., etc.
I’ll go nuts with all the concurrent sessions – like trying to decide which stage to go to at Lollapalooza! My mind is already boggling. If I’m lucky, this rockin’ conference will reduce me to a state of utterly blissful stupefaction, if not catatonia. (But if it rains, we’ll all be inside. No actual mud to wallow in, alas.)
*”The flesh receives as unlimited the limits of pleasure; and to provide it requires unlimited time. But the mind, intellectually grasping what the end and limit of the flesh is, and banishing the terrors of the future, procures a complete and perfect life, and we have no longer any need of unlimited time. Nevertheless the mind does not shun pleasure, and even when circumstances make death imminent, the mind does not lack enjoyment of the best life.”
– Epicurus, Principal Doctrines