5.0868 Second ALLC/ACH '92 Report (1/48)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 29 Apr 1992 21:54:05 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0868. Wednesday, 29 Apr 1992.

Date: Tue, 28 Apr 92 23:28:51 EDT
From: "Allen Renear, Brown Univ/CIS, 401-863-7312" <ALLEN@BROWNVM>
Subject: ACHALLC92

Usually I'm the guy who wants to talk shop -- and who wants
everyone else to talk shop too. Character sets, encoding theory,
methodological problems of Very Large Corpora, methodological
problems of Very Small Corpora, Incorporeal Problems of Medium Size
Methodologies ... the stuff of life right? This time I'm going to
chill. Elaine probably expects a nice critique of a session or two.
But I don't feel like it just at the moment. Instead I'd like to
raise a more important question. A *much* more important question.
A very serious question. A difficult and profound question...

Why are these ACHALLC conferences so damn much fun?

Oxford was glorious. Part of it was the setting of course: Christ
Church was exquisite, the University wonderful and exciting. The
hospitality was absolutely terrific -- Marilyn, Lou, Susan, Katy,
and the others were *delightful*. xoxo

The sessions I went to were almost all first rate: fresh, thought-
provoking. Some were even unsettling and there were not a few
satisfyingly earnest disputes. The conversation at tea and meals was
perhaps every bit as engaging and wonderful as the talks themselves.
Who wanted to sleep? Four days of arguing about texts, writing systems,
editing, encoding, technology, subjectivity, interpretation, method,
truth, the future, the past, THE HUMANITIES, the sciences... four days
of comparing notes about computing services ... four days of enlisting
support for mad schemes and projects... four wonderful days of talking
about, thinking about, and planning humanities computing

Yet I still don't feel I've got a handle on it, on why these ACHALLC
conferences are so wonderful, so satisfying. After all, sometimes the
American Philosophical Association meets in a nice place (no, not that
nice, I mean, say, Baltimore). And there often is a good paper or two;
and I see my friends and we gossip, argue, and scheme. But it just
isn't the same.

Is it just me? Or the APA? What do you all think? Maybe the
Aristotelian Society compares...?

Nah. I think we are the last intellectuals. Somehow, despite our
bizarre mix of specialities and roles, or because of them, at
ACHALLC we approximate some mythical community of engaged
inquirers, happy to be on the planet, nourished by the Great
Conversation, delighted to have companions in our enthusiasms.

But yet that still doesn't explain why everyone in the ACH and ALLC
seems so ... so *nice*. Or is monitor radiation affecting my limbic system?