Kvell is a new word for me, a yiddish word I learned last night in Liverpool which means to overflow with pride and happiness for a loved one. Because Mark won the Science Fiction Research Association Pilgrim Award for lifetime achievement.
He still has so much lifetime left as well, and he gets to continue along now on the rosy acknowledgment of his awesomeness by his peers. After a few days spent at the conference, I have to say this is made even lovelier by the awesomeness of those same peers whose papers I found quite inspiring and that have me thinking about all kinds of new things. I almost (but not really) feel myself being seduced away from Geography, especially as I continue to fail spectacularly in my attempts to find work. But this is mirrored in the despair I am meeting among everyone at this stage in every field.
We all feel so fucked, so worried. Even those well-established on the ladder and producing work of outstanding quality remain unable to feel secure.
This award (unattached as it is to a funding stream) may (but probably will not) result in some change in his standing with the university, highlighting the oppressive uncaringness and ever more neoliberal nature of our institutions. Survival so clearly depends creating a community within our fields (and amongst and amidst and between our fields) that can nurture and support work that matters while fighting to change things. The need for community and resistance was the point of much of Mark’s acceptance speech, which will appear in print at some point to be shared as it is far more eloquent than I am at the moment. It had much of the room on the verge of tears, and felt like a solid blow on the side of right.
I’m not often quite so personal, so I’m going to take it back to my comfort zone of ‘pictures of cities’ now. Back to Liverpool, a city I quite love. An independent comic book store, feminist book store (called News From Nowhere! Where you will want to buy or already own every book in the window display), quality used book stores, lots of unlikely small businesses sprung up in unlikely places, numerous good pubs and clubs (we didn’t get home last night until after 3 am), good food, diversity, the Tate… and etc. We didn’t get to see much of Liverpool this trip actually (though we did get to check out the very cool Afro Supa Hero exhibition at the International Slavery Museum), but I never posted about the last trip when we did. So a few particularly spectacular things:
The Williamson Tunnels — a warren of tunnels and caves that go on for miles under the city. A wealthy merchant named Williamson hired men to dig them out of the sandstone in the early 1800s, possibly as a way to provide employment to unemployed dockers and soldiers, possibly for a web of other religious or esoteric reasons (why choose one anyway?). No one knows their full extent, but volunteers have been working to map and explore them and they are awesome.
The wonderful Philharmonic Pub, also built with love and craft:
The city itself — monumental grandeur built on the proceeds of slavery and trade, struggling and faded and much of it rebuilt and replaced now, and rather full of the weird and the wonderful (and almost everything is sprouting plant life).
The Western Approaches — key headquarters during WWII and full of cool stuff: