This afternoon, when I returned from a lengthy and sausage-intensive lunch, I found my chief assistants, Manfred and Helmut, atwitter. They had just received the improbably thick program of the 42nd Annual International Congress on Medieval Studies.
“Herr Professor von Korncrake,” squeaked Helmut, brandishing the monstrosity in my face, “look, here is the session in which Manfred and I will deliver our paper.”
“Ach, very good.” I replied, “and how many sessions are there? 620, well they certainly seem selective.”
“But Herr Professor,” said Manfred, “Herr Direktor Professor Kleimann said it would be an honor for us to present at this prestigious medievalist conference.”
“Well, as an expert on Late Ming Dynasty scholar-beauty romances, I’m sure he knows best.”
Truth be told, I was glad Manfred and Helmut were on their way to America, especially as I would not be going with them, for you see, dear readers, I have already been to Kalamazoo, and once was more than enough.
The trip was more than a decade ago, when I was still relatively content in my fate, before the world had shifted under me and rendered all of my plans and desires moot. (But that’s a funny story for another time.)
This story begins with the news that my paper, “Cultural Semiotics, Semi(n)ology and Semiotics: scientia omnis aut est de signis aut de rebus significatis: Text, Textuality and Semiosis”, had been accepted for presentation at a special session to be chaired by a very prestigious scholar, one who had made particular mention in his letter of my innovative use of two colons in the title.
I was giddy with pleasure, especially as the the Direktor of the Institut had agreed to fund the trip.
It was not much money, and I would be staying in the infamous Kalamazoo dorms, accomodations which even the most humble of Cistercians would have rejected as inadequate. But this was nothing, I had done my term as a conscript in the Nationale Volksarmee and was used to much worse.
The important thing was that I was going to America, my first trip abroad.
(Tomorrow, dear readers, I shall continue this story.)