June 14, 2006

leaving traces

sitting in the library working on papers can be pretty isolating. like i wrote a couple of weeks ago, its a strange kind of sociality. you sit there with the same people days on end but dont really ever end up talking with them directly; except for the occasional exception usually inspired by some kind of romantic interest. once i had a fellow-stranger try to entice me into conversation with a muffin which was sweet :) but for the most part your impressions on other people come to be composed by the traces they leave: the books they are reading, the webpages you catch a glimpse of them browsing on. but you never talk, unless you come across each other at a party or over the internet maybe.

i have been really excited by how i have suddenly managed to come in contact with anthropologists and anthropo-philes in Norway (such as Lorenz and Tiram , Canada and even my old office mate, Antti Leppänen, at the University of Helsinki through my blog (he put up a picture of the office we shared in Helsinki on his blog and to my surprise i noticed myself longing for the time i worked there). and writing about derrida's ideas of traces (in his Différance paper) for my final paper on Candomble initiation has had me thinking about the ways in which the internet allows us to connect with people on the basis of traces they leave on the web. the interesting thing though is how, at least here at u of c, important such traces on the web seem to be for any kind of sociality - more than half of the people i know at the u of c network with their peers online whether it is through friendster, myspace or facebook, and not even to mention to stories i have heard of people meeting other u of c students through such online dating sites nerve.com, craigs list or match.com.

just last week i came across this mandala drawing in the quad, in which the artist, who identified himself as a socially awkward and shy person, invited any one who found the drawing and the text attached to it interesting to enter into email contact with him


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