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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Elnathan John: Cluster Modalities


Watching my thoughts revolve,
A carousel
with baggage of different shades,
I hear the question
over and over again:
what did you think of the conference?
And I wonder which of the bags to open

I am trying to understand
and modalities
Searching for reflexivity
beyond unknowable words
titillating theorists
as they bounce off rooms without windows,
just narrow doors through which
only the lucky from the long queues enter
and never have to leave. 

I mourn
my favourite part of conferences
when finally convolution morphs into clarity
unaffected by teas and lunches and dinners
where the most convoluted thing
is the hard choice between
                  tea or coffee
                  vegetarian or non vegetarian
                  cheap red wine or cheap white wine

I grapple with my dividual personhood
How can I distribute myself
divide the composite
and let them exist side by side —
the parts allowed to speak and entertain
the parts that discomfit
I should reach for relationality
to watch and learn
how to be internally divided and partible
how to be understood;
to know when to laugh
when to engage with worthy thoughts
(And where
And with whom, especially with whom)
which sort of knowledge production
deserves my transdisciplinary rigour;
To know
When to wave away, with nice words
Like interesting
Or with silence
To know when not to upset the balance of things
while reaching for balance between
declaring the grammars that constrict us nonsense
and dismissing the uninitiated with single eye-rolling adjectives
when their disconnection from our jargon intrigues us

But what would it be, if I myself
dabble in convolution
So I stop my chronicler self
make apologies for any discomfiting thoughts
and chronicle, with clarity,

The fellows are lovely
Transdisplinarity is in full swing
Decoloniality prevails
Zoom conferences can be great if you take into account
that you can cook and or do yoga
while your avatar remains muted and respectfully attentive
Oh, and lest I forget,
The town is gorgeous
Its brewery has amazing IPAs
If you haven’t been, you should go
You need no reservations
Unlike tenure,
you will get a seat
after the hard work
of driving, cycling or walking there.

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