Post PCA/ACA San Antonio musings

So…now that I’ve had a couple of days to digest both the whirlwind travel to and from San Antonio and Easter, I think I’m ready to blog about the experience.

1st day: I told Ms. Prisca that it will be a LOOOOONG time before I complain loudly about the climate here in California. We left on Wednesday, and the flights over from Santa Barbara to Denver and Denver to San Antonio were uneventful enough and the baggage claim was easy to locate. All in all the San Antonio airport was just fine. However, when we walked out the door, it felt like we stepped into a sauna. Hot, wet air accosted the lungs in such a way that I swear I have never felt before. Even when I visited Boston in late July, it was not that humid. Not that I’m complaining, it was just a fascinating experience that gave me major perspective on the climate here in Santa Barbara (a climate that I complain a lot about). Bruce and I took a taxi to the hotel, and we checked in with no difficulty at all. The gentleman that checked us in was even interested in the topic of my presentation. 🙂 Later, he even gave me a bottle of water for my presentation. 🙂 Then, Bruce and I wandered up to our room and surveyed the neighborhood as well as we could from the 23rd floor.

Next, we decided to walk over to The Alamo. The architecture was quite stunning. I never knew that Texas had so many quarries. Our taxi driver noted that Texas doesn’t have much in the way of topsoil. We both enjoyed seeing The Alamo. I didn’t expect it to be so easy to approach…free and stuff. I guess I’m used to the Cali way of making money off of all of our historical sites. Even the missions here in Cali require a small donation to walk through them…At any rate, seeing Davy Crockett’s rifle and vest really brought some historicity to the Disney Fess Parker version of the story. I enjoyed it, though we left a little early as I was jet-lagged, hot and dehydrated. After that, Bruce and I found a really cool Brazilian BBQ restaurant a hop and a skip from our hotel. We had a lovely dinner, and finally got to try some Stag’s Leap red. 🙂 YAY Cali wine in Texas!!

After our leisurely dinner, we wandered back to the hotel and met the ladies for a chat. Pris and Rebekah had recently returned from a presentation that really got their dander up. *Full Disclosure* I didn’t attend this presentation, but according to Prisca, the person who presented suggested that Disney bears responsibility for oversexualization in animation, and she used Ariel as evidence of this. Pris was pretty pissed off over it, and although I might have been too if I was there, I had to find it laughable that someone would play it that lame and uncritically. I guess that’s why were there. 😉 Also, Prisca gave us some lovely anniversary/birthday gifts and cards. I absolutely loved my homemade shawl! Thanks PRISCA!!  Room was comfy! Bed lovely!

2nd day: Slept in a little,  but was up and ready to go by about 8:30ish. We had breakfast down in the lobby of the hotel, and then I headed over the other hotel to attend Rebekah’s presentation. There were four people on the panel, and the panel centered around a discussion of the sixties. The first presenter talked about student dissent at the unis. in Britain. It was an interesting talk, and quite scholarly. Clearly, this presenter drew her paper directly from research she’d done for a book.

The second presenter gave a memory piece on coming of age during the atomic age of the 50s. What I found most provocative about his presentation was his examination of absurdity in regards to the presence of the bomb. As a person who grew up in the 80s, I find it difficult to imagine a time when there was anything other and a sense of fear and solemnity about the atomic bomb. However, after this presentation, I understand why culture presented the bomb as absurb…I mean, really, how else would it be possible to live with its presence? It really shifted my perspective on 1950s culture. The presence of a counterculture of absurdity brought home to me the reality that there were many who were conscious of the contradictions in society even as cultural conformity was the order of the moment.

Rebekah was the third presenter. Her presentation was on the cultural descent into the underworld present in the film images of the late 60s and 70s. She discussed the death and dismemberment of the counterculture movements of the hippies and yippies. She presented mythic images that reflect this, as well as the eventual rebirth present in some of the films of the 80s. Good stuff all around!! Go Rebekah! Fascinating perspective and totally different from anything anyone else offered!

The fourth presenter also did a memory piece. It centered on his personal experiences as Altamont. Good stuff!

After we left Rebekah’s presentation, we headed over to a presentation by a guy from Cal State Fullerton discussing the construction of memory in culture and the use of it by Disneyland and Colonial Williamsburg. Interesting, and some of the conclusions he has come to have also been thoughts I’ve had. The most important for me was his suggestion that Disney (through the theme parks) seeks to sell memories to patrons before they even have the chance to experience them. I agree with much of what he was saying, but I think that it may also reflect the particular brand of ritual Disney creates. This kind of ritual is part of the creation of temple culture in general. People sell at temples. People buy at temples. There is evidence of this going all the way back to ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. He definitely approached the topic from a Marxist point of view…interesting, but not holistic enough for my mythic mode of thinking.

Probably the most AWESOME moment of the conference for me came when I headed to the bookstore after this presentation. In short, while picking up a book titled “Toying with God,” I met the director of Baylor’s UP. Again, in short, he expressed interest in publishing my dissertation! I’ll blog more about this as it develops (if it develops). It was flattering, to say the least, to have someone of the caliber of Baylor showing interest in my project!!!!! 🙂

After that, I chatted up with Pris for a while in her room, and she suggested that I take some ownership of a couple of terms I’m using in my dissertation, mainly Post Millenialism. Here goes:

Post Millenialism is a phraseI’m using to define the ontology of our contemporary moment. It differs from Post Modernism in that in synthesizes utopianism, nihilism and self-reflection in a different way. Post Millenialists FIND themselves in the oblivion of the apocalypse. They find comfort in entropy. Post Millenialsts take apocalypse as a given, and they are suspicious of anything that offers cohesive structure.

Another phrase I’m using in my dissertation that I should probably claim is mythic ritual. Mythic ritual refers to ritualized behavior that affects a psychological change. I would suggest that any ritual that actually functions is a mythic ritual. Mythic rituals effectively alter the consciousness of the participant, immersing them fully into the stories they embody.

Our presentations: Prisca and I presented at 8:15pm on Thursday night. She and I were 2/3 of a Disney specific panel called “Disney: The Good, The Bad and Everything in Between.” Presentations were all good.

1st presenter talked about negative aspects of the images Disney offers through the princesses. I’m sure I don’t need to explore what she said there. We all know what kinds of criticisms leveled at Disney regarding their princess images. I was originally supposed to go last, but Pris offered her spot to me so I could be a direct rebuttal to the previous presentation.

I presented on the Disney princess from the point of view of Jungian Psychology and the anima complex/projection. Essentially, what I said is that the images of Disney’s princesses reflect a particular sense of what the feminine state of soul looks like in culture and that their projection reflects this. Furthermore, anima is emotion and connection and the princesses reflect this. I focused a good half of it on Tiana and Rapunzel. I may work this presentation into a paper, and if I do, I will post it on the blog. While I lost my train of thought for a minute or so in the middle of the talk (I became concerned about time for a sec), I still think it went well.

Prisca talked about Disneyization and Snow White. She suggested that Disneyization reflects the kind of mythic retelling of fairy tales that always occurs in any culture, and that Disney is in essence creating fairy tales for Americans. In doing this, she analyzed Snow White as a depression-era myth. I shouldn’t go too much into it on my blog, since the ideas belong to her, but  *Nod* JJJJYESS!

NEWHO, we fielded quite a few questions, and we even had a GUY in our audience. He sported an “I’m surrounded by idiots” t-shirt (nice reference to Jeremy Irons in “The Lion King”), and he gave thoughtful and cool thoughts on Disney’s images, their marketing and the impact of Michael Eisner. 🙂 NOICE!

After that, we went back to the room, and I tried to bed down. Couldn’t sleep, and probably got about 1 hour of sleep, I got up just before 4am on Friday. We left the hotel at 4:40, and flew out on time. Spent about 6 hours in the airport in Denver, after which we had some horrifying turbulence on the way back to SB…but we got home safely….so all in all just fine. 🙂

Great experience…next year, Boston!! I hope, anyway…

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