Sunday, February 19, 2012

standing around

Cynic that I am, when the flashing light and the loudspeaker voice came on at the beginning of Antonio Damasio's talk - the penultimate item in today's wonderfully run, wonderfully stimulating Graduate Symposium on Art and the Mind - I thought it was some kind of simulation, some kind of experiment, some kind of - I didn't know what, but didn't think that it was a common or garden fire alarm or drill.  This is an emergency situation, warned the urgently calm disembodied voice.  Do not gather up your things.  Move outside immediately.  So of course I gathered up my things, and moved outside slowly, waiting to see if other people were doing the same - with an queasy feeling that as - in institutional terms - the most administratively senior and relevant person there, something might be my responsibility (finding the fire extinguishers?).  Happily it wasn't, and the graduate symposium leaders ushered us all out with consummate efficiency, and a little red fire engine trotted up and did nothing in particular until it went away again.  But I think it served as an example of how, in academic situations, somehow the obvious solution (yes! it was a fire alarm) isn't the one that one instantly arrives at.

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