UPDATE: [Graduate] SDSU Crisis Carnival: Ecstasy of Speed

full name / name of organization: 
Kevin Gossett
contact email: 

April 10, 2008

New deadline for Proposals! March 1, 2009

The Ecstasy of Speed: SDSU’s Annual Graduate Conference 2009

What do Gillette’s Mach 3 Turbo razor, Instant Oatmeal/Coffee/Messaging/ Diets, Wikipedia, V12
motor engines, ready-made products (pre-assembled, pre-packaged, pre-washed, pre-
cooked), freeways, and the Fastpass option for ‘beating the line’ at Disneyland have in common?

A culturally legitimized, capitalistically promoted, technologically induced need for SPEED.

Ours is an age in which the rate at which a process or operation is executed (production,
consumption, acceleration, modification, termination, recuperation) seems to stand alone as the
definitive measure of its value. An increase in such rate, then, is directly proportional to the
increased worth of that process or operation, let alone product; the faster, the better!


Moreover, the capacity to affect such an increase in SPEED presupposes a technological mastery
of both space and time. Having as one’s goal the capacity to cover “X amount of ground in X
amount of time” both relies upon a necessarily abstract, yet quantifiable type of thinking, and
thereby reduces time and space into standards for the estimation of organized motile force.

How does this widespread increase in rate (aka SPEED) affect the experience of human existence?
For the better – seeing as ‘life-quality’ rates are also on the rise – or for the worse – as the
world’s supposed shrinkage arguably entails such effects as global warming and so-called public
isolation? Moreover, does speed presuppose a movement out-of one’s self, an ecstatic motion?

If so, and if ecstasy in its Greek derivative sense (ecstasis) can be taken as being "beside oneself,"
or being-thrown (even if such is self-motivated), then an ECSTASY of SPEED intensifies the rate
of such a movement out-of. Such an increase in motion out-of can be characterized in regard to
the individual (among other ways) either as a positive basis for a voluntary action (a way of
relating to the world) or as a negative rupture which founds the fragmentation of human identity
and society.
Heidegger optimistically suggests that each being “projects itself upon possibilities into which it
has been thrown […] To be its own thrown basis is that potentiality-for-Being which is the issue
for care” (Being and Time 330). In this case, would an intensified ek-stasis merely augment such
potentiality, or rather stymie its openness to the Being of beings?

Other prevalent questions may include:

Are we moving with too much SPEED and in too close a proximity? Can/should/will the world get
smaller, and every-thing become a standing-reserve for our proliferating purposes? Does a
contemporary obsession with rate of movement (the need for SPEED) intimate that utility and
efficacy determine the manner of human relations to the world, rather than a criterion of worth
which rejects the making of all things into objects for ready-made, and disposable, human use?
If the latter, what would such a criterion be? Would it involve a decrease in SPEED, a slowing and
moving in-to, rather than out-of?
How do our perceptions of time and space change with SPEED? How can an obsession with speed
– regarding the transportation of both informational and biological bodies – be reconciled with a
diminished emphasis on spatiality and temporality (‘get there in no time’)? What becomes of
locality when a hyper-mobility (especially among the economically elite) is valued above all? Can
this privileged mobility be characterized as a non-teleological tendency toward an incessant
exitus (departure) lacking an accordant and (in regard to the formation of communities)
responsible reditus (return)? Is this hyper-mobility an elitist fetish, or a necessary aspect of
modern existence?
Does a far-reaching need for SPEED contribute toward a technologically advanced nation’s
disordered and tireless self-erosion, or its success, however measured? How should SPEED be
understood in the context of globalization, wherein a crate of soda (or any type of goods) can
circle the planet overnight, but a refugee in a camp cannot be safely moved for months? Who has
access to the privilege of SPEED, and what are its effects? In a similar light, does the increase in
SPEED conceal the disappearance of a destination? If SPEED is becoming, toward what do we

This year's Crisis Carnival will examine the essential and accidental aspects of speed and will
engage in interdisciplinary discussions around this theme. We encourage paper and panel
proposals with a broad interpretation of SPEED in ALL areas of inquiry.

Too broad? Possible topics can explore issues of SPEED in relation to:


Each submission should include: 250 word abstract for a 10-12 page paper, short story,
selection of poems, art object, or 15 minute film. Please include your title, contact information,
and area of study on your cover page. Artwork should be submitted as photos with the titles
written on the back. Each performance piece is limited to 15 minutes; please send a DVD.

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2009!

Send electronic submissions and/or questions to:


Send physical submissions to:

Crisis Carnival/Kevin Gossett
The Department of
English and Comparative Literature
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego,
CA 92182.6020

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