First of all I must say that Amsterdam can be a very pleasant place midweek in January. Streets are not at all crowded, the weather is fine (sunny and I’d say around 8°C) and canal-side cafes have unoccupied window-side tables. In short – a perfect day for slipping a few books into your bag and going for a walk.
I am here for a conference though, so I had to get up at 7:30, grab a coffee and something to eat and then head on to UvA library. The title of the conference is “Specters, Hauntings and Archives” – which is of course a reference to Jacques Derrida, and more precisely to his two books “Specters of Marx” and “Archive Fever”. In the light of this it was actually a bit surprising that Derrida only got a scant mention today, but there was a lot of talk about different kind of ghosts, specters, spirits and zombies. It is amazing what kind of things can be a subject for a scholarly study at the beginning of 21st century, isn’t it? However, taking into account the kind of a proverbial glass house that my own dissertation topic is, I really should think twice before throwing stones in that regard..
Anyway, the first day of the conference was a bit of a mixed bag. Some stuff was really interesting (a 45 minute sweep of a ghost story genre from its victorian origins all the way to the present, an anthropological view of zombie culture and its history), while some other presentations bored me silly. Luckily I had some reading with me. Tomorrow seems to be a similar affair – a few lectures that I am very much interested in and a bunch of things (mostly related to art) that I will probably simply skip. The conference will conclude with a rather grand spirit-disco with plenty of spooky stuff in store – not the least of which is to see some 40 academics dance to the haunted tunes.
So on Sunday it will be on to Cambridge – although now that they fixed the heating in my hotel room I could well stay for a few days more.