The CAA - the College Art Association - annual jamboree is not the MLA (Modern Languages ditto) - this is self evident in a number of ways (not least its tendency to try and collide with Alice and my birthdays/Valentine's day, as opposed to some inopportune time in the Christmas holidays). But one of its best features is that it has tools of the trade on display and on sale - paints, colored pencils, printing ink, brushes (and people draw, too - there was a woman next to me in a session this afternoon busily using both pencils and wax crayons, which I guess was one way to take notes on papers dealing with C19th and early C20th French and German posters and street art). How can I resist brushes that are sold by the pick-your-own dozen?
Think what MLA would be like if it did the same - if in the book fair there were stands selling notebooks and different kinds of fine nibbed pens, and - well, what does today's writer need? I guess there'd just be a big Apple stand and a Genius Bar for everyone whose computer starts to do funky things at the wrong moment. (Incidentally, there are many more Macs, many fewer other breeds around at CAA). I know that readings and such like do take place at MLA - not that I've ever been to one - but it's so very salutary to be reminded, in and out of sessions, that our discipline (our disciplines?) is/are based on people who create things in the first place.