Hastily typed out in stream of consciousness, while returning from the ASWM (Association for the Study of Women & Mythology) Conference — typing on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) & I’ve still got a head churningly full of wonderful, fascinating, intriguing ideas! Still tremendously gleeful at how well my presentation went too. One of my intellectual inspirations has been Cristina Biaggi’s astonishingly thought-provoking The Rule of Mars: Readings on the Origins, History, & Impact of Patriarchy, a selection of essays she collected by a wide variety of scholars which all speculate on the origins and effects of patriarchy. She was in the audience when I gave my presentation, as was Vicki Noble.
Vicki is in a class by herself, as far as I’m concerned. Not only was she on my thesis committee, but she near-single-handedly encouraged me in my darkest thesis-etical hour to forge on doggedly and create the best I could — such that despite my being under the metaphorical gun, I managed to pull together a strong, well-thought-out thesis on a subject I love, in less than two weeks. Yes, she’s one of my intellectual heroes too, and I’ll be always grateful to her for both her encouragement then, and her infinite patience with what was (when she first met me) an opinionated but also unwittingly strongly under-educated faux-feminist. ;)
There were a few other folks in the audience too — Barbara, your generosity and your photography of my speechifications really rocked! ;) -but it was a small audience, since we had four tracks running simultaneously, and my track was up against some of the giants in the field. I was, therefore, thrilled to have any audience at all! However, after giving my presentation, I was wonderfully shocked to see Cristina Biaggi standing to applaud me — and to enthusiastically ask me for a written copy of my presentation! That was truly a lovely moment for me, considering that I was worried about flubbing the talking or reading completely. Yes, intellectually I knew I would do fine, but I have it on excellent authority (Judy Grahn, no less!) that the stomach butterflies never really go away — even after over a decade of performances.
So, the presentation! I decided not to go with a PowerPoint presentation, and I think the size of my audience confirmed that decision — by only speaking to them, rather than distracting them with flashy pictures, I was able to establish eye contact with each of them at some point throughout the presentation, and it felt much more personal and well-connecting to me. I also made sure I had good notes, rather than simply a paper to read, so my voice stayed natural, as if I was having a conversation with them.
That is, I’ve noticed, a very distancing effect: simply reading a paper for the presentation. There were a few women who did that — some, I think, from sheer nervousness, which I can hardly blame them for — and they spent little to no time actually connecting through eye contact with their audience. One woman was so doggedly reading her paper, in fact, that she almost didn’t look up at all. The time keeper was gently waving the little sign that said her time was up — and she just kept plowing on! It took the MC slowly walking over to her for her to realize her time was up. Unfortunately her reaction was to insist she was almost done; she only had a sentence to go! -and then to continue for at least another minute or two! That, I thought, was somewhat inconsiderate to both her audience, and the speakers patiently waiting for their turn to speak as well.
So, back to my presentation! I titled it “Warrior, Priestess, Queen: Re-Membering Our Ancient Mythic Archetypes,” and reviewed a single archaeological excavation of the Scythians in order to make my points. I was also very pleased that I could tightly link in what I wanted to talk about with the stated theme of the conference: “Creating the Chalice: Imagination and Integrity in Goddess Studies.” As is my wont, I closed with a few hopefully excitingly “call to action” statements and questions which allow people (if they wish) to feel fired up and wholehearted about changing the world. I was later told my joy and enthusiasm for my subject shone through quite clearly, so hopefully between that and my passion for changing the world for the better, people indeed felt moved and inspired.
Just changed BART trains at Bay Fair Station. Two young girls are waiting, along with everyone else, for the train — dressed in brilliantly-colored and -patterned, mismatched socks over candy-colored stripy tights; short, fluffy, tutu-style skirts; and tops that are equally mismatchingly patterned in eye-poppingly bright colors. One of them has red-dyed hair as well. It’s hilariously cute, and I wonder what party they’re going to on Mother’s Day. I remember San Francisco as seen from the bus this morning, on the way to the BART station — someday I need to go there when I have the time to take a tour and see the sights. There are an astonishing variety of types of tours, too. Just in the few minutes we spent outside during the conference, I saw Segue tours; tourists on bicycles; tiny hot-rod style mini-cars that have a self-directed, tape-recorded tour you can follow; big, elegant, and completely enclosed buses; open “Urban Safari” vehicles with wide bench seats, like a boat; an actual boat-car (!) that could clearly carry a large number of folks; and a series of buses with open seating on top — like you have in England — which allowed you to hop on and off any number of them so you could take as long as you wanted wherever you wanted.