July 16th, 2013 / 4:40 pm

The Hunger Games % Academic Conference


A tiny bit ago, like in February, Carina Finn, the girl author of Lemonworld, published a list of the panels that were to be held at The Hunger Games % Academic Conference.

The conference was kind of (though not really) supposed to take place soon after, but due to incidents involving peanut butter, Sean Cody, and tea parties, the conference kept incurring delays.

Finally, on a cool summer night, the primary participants of The Hunger Games % Academic Conference — New York City Poetry Festival princess Stephanie Berger, Carina, and me — gathered at a sharply secret location, and the conference, after so many months, commenced.

Before the first panel was to begin, controversy came. I noticed that the then title of our conference, The Hungers Games Academic Conference, looked sort of weird, like Barack Obama’s birth certificate (which I still haven’t had the chance to see, by the way). I suggested that we add percentage symbols before the “The” and after “Games.” Carina concurred that The Hunger Games Academic Conference was too plain to be pretty, but she deemed that two percentage symbols was a surfeit, and declared that there should only be one, and that one should come after the “Games.” So that’s how The Hunger Games Academic Conference became The Hunger Games % Academic Conference.

Stephanie, who’d been texting with boys throughout the title alteration, then declared, “We’re off to a good start.” But her cheer was countered right away when a stack of referential texts, including Kate Durbin’s Kept Women, Sianne Ngai’s Our Aesthetic Categories, and an alien anthology of film theory essays, toppled over.

And on that odious note, the first panel — The Hungers Games As a Micro/Macrocosm of the Hungarian Doctor in Celine’s Oeuvre As Interpreted by Kristeva; or, Stephanie Drops Her Port — proceeded with both Stephanie and Carina recalling the specific time when the former dropped her port; both labeled the occurrence “a moment of abjection.”

Carina then touched on the Celine component of the panel by describing both Celine and The Hunger Games as dramatically violent and pastorally lovely.

Stephanie said she never considered The Hunger Games to be pastoral, though, after further rumination, she supposed it was, although she still couldn’t concede that The Hunger Games was a pastoral poem (NB: in the weeks leading up the conference there was a whisper campaign that The Hungers Games might be a pastoral poem of some merit).

Connecting the idea of the pastoral to The Capital, Carina said that both The Capital, where the Games are held, and the pastoral privilege ideas of valor and constant nostalgia.

Seeking clarification, Stephanie asked, “Aren’t the Games just entertainment?”

Carina explained that the Games were using entertainment with pastoral means; the Games’ overseers were trying to make the artificial pastoral, so it was “pastorality in drag.”

“Oh, that’s good,” gushed Stephanie, recognizing that Carina’s term — “pastorality in drag” — will probably be used in academic articles for some time to come.

I whispered something about Julia Kristeva and caca, and I mentioned that The Hunger Games’s combination of high-tech matrices and pastoral land was very similar to the Nazis’ situation. But I really wasn’t in the mood to speak further, as I was too irked that there wasn’t a cute boy beside me.

Poetness is to Humanness as Katniss is to Huntress: The Melting Pot of the Artist-Subject Identity Through the Lens of 21st Century Hyper-Sci-Fi Psychoanalytic Theory-Objects(–?) — this is the title of panel two.

The theory-objects in question were a mini Robert Bly book of poems, a garish pink hand, and a scary figurine.


21st century hyper-sci-fi psychoanalytic theory-objects from L-R: Robert Bly mini books of poems, pink hand, scary figurine.

Carina thought it important to note that these were not the original theory-objects that the conference planners intended to use.

“Their identity shifted,” added Stephanie, somberly.

“Is that parallel to why psychoanalytic theory is constantly referenced — because you can make it blank and anything can pass through it?” queried Carina.

Halting the discourse, I asked for a definition of “21st century hyper-sci-fi psychoanalytic” so that it’d be clear what constituted  a 21st century hyper-sci-fi psychoanalytic “theory-object.”

Barely blinking, Carina replied that all those words connote a thing that negates itself while concurrently creating itself.

Alluding to French boys Deleuze and Guattari, I said, “Then it’s sort of similar to a rhizome spaceship.”

Carina nodded before taking the talk to the first part of the panel, involving poetness, humanness, Katniss, and huntress

I said that Katniss can’t be a huntress because she’s first and foremost a girl.

Carina agreed that Katniss wasn’t a huntress, since being a huntress is a quality, not an overall identity marking; however, Katniss’s main quality was that of a huntress, which is required if one wishes to be successful in the Games, as one must have that primitive instinct.

After discussing how depraved so-called “poets” were for a time, Stephanie concluded, “Maybe humans have human instincts instead of actual humanness.”

“Inclined toward humanness,” added Carina.

Seconds later, Carina was pontificating on Alex Mack and the liquescent nature of identity politics.

For undisclosed reasons, Carina absented herself from the third panel: Dispatching Letters Via Corporeal Hand: Aggressive Articulation in Major Modern Metropolises and the Arena.

Stephanie didn’t seem interested in this topic either, as she took to her iPhone.

I, contrary to the girls, spoke about Willa Cather and Edith Lewis. Then I made what some might deem “hateful” and “homophobic” remarks about academics who constructed a phony atmosphere of urgency in order to act against the unequivocal wishes of one of the most wonderful girl authors ever.

Stephanie labeled the fourth panel — Mountain Lion Bull-Dyke Dogs: Certain Confluences Between Lesbians and Mac Hardware (Also, Is Apple in the Hunger Games? And, if so, are Apple Products Heroes or Maidens in Walt Disney’s/Pixar’s Wall-E? — Does Judith Butler Have an Apple in Her Mouth?) — “ridiculous.”

Calmly, Carina conveyed that this panel was “very relevant.” She posited that Apple is either in The Hunger Games or has influenced the Hunger Games, as it hospital-like and corporate.

After a bit of polite back and fourth, Carina point-blankly asked Stephanie, “How does Mac hardware relate to lesbian bull-dyke dogs?”

“They’re aggressive.” Stephanie replied, unshaken.

But Stephanie’s description of Mac products as “sleek” didn’t satisfy Carina, as Carina couldn’t reconcile “sleek” and “aggressive.” So I put in my three nickels, and said that while, sure, Mac products were sleek and simple, they were simultaneously aggressive, since their simplicity permitted them to make aggressive music on GarageBand and aggressive movies on iMovie.

Tired of the issue, Carina tried to move onto the Judith Butler portion of the panel by proclaiming that Judith Butler does indeed have an apple in her mouth.

But Stephanie swung the topic back to lesbians (although Judith is a lesbian too), asking, “Are lesbians controlled by their Mac products?” Following some silence, Stephanie concluded, “Maybe that’s a question best reserved for another conference.”

Though there were still nine panels remaining, including one pertaining to patriarchal projections emitting from Robert Lowell and Ted Hughes, everyone wanted to do something else.

Stephanie wanted to fiddle with her trademark braid, Carina wanted to travel to a far off land, and I wanted to convene a covert mission to see a certain boy in the Boston area.

So, after only three panels, the first ever Hunger Games % Academic Conference concluded.

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  1. deadgod
  2. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      speaking of an identity that has shifted — I feel as though your own position has recently transitioned from child-baby to something more adolescent… or at least pre-adolescent, with a more explicit, albeit it still somewhat asexual or aestheticized — interest in keeping company with cute boys. I am intrigued.