trial lecture’s done
Survived part one: I officially passed my trial lecture. There were no questions, just a strange sort of end, but Marie-Laure said afterwards that she liked the golems 🙂 I even had a nice dinner with Lisbeth, Torill, Jesper and Marie-Laure, before shooting off home to work while they, the lucky things, have another drink or two. My wonderful mother and friends have been setting the table and so on in preparation for tomorrow’s dinner. And now I’m going to have a cup of tea, some chocolate, and I’m going to sit down and make quite sure I know how to respond to the critical points in the committee’s report.
Oh, what the trial lecture turned out to be about? Well, I talked about the Hindu and digital origins of the word avatar, and argued that avatars, as projections of the user into another world, are useful concepts in thinking about represented worlds that have clear boundaries from our own, actual world. I showed how the user mirrors the characters in Magic-tree.com, and how those characters aren’t really avatars; how I don’t even really identify with the characters whose movements I’m enacting. Then I described the myth of the golem (not a projection into another world but an animated non-human in this world) and read a bit from Fuentes’s Aura (search for “ritual” inside the book, that’s the page I read), and proposed that when there are less clear boundaries between actual and represented world it might be more useful to think about the relationship between user and fictional characters as similar to that between a golem and its creator.
I am dying to get my hands on Norbert Wiener’s God and Golem, Inc. The weirdest thing about writing a paper on a set topic in only two weeks is that you get all these good ideas that don’t quite have time to unfold. And you discover potentially fascinating connections and literature the day before your deadline.
Tomorrow: the defence itself. The disputas. Tomorrow evening: the party. Then it’ll be over.