There’s more than one way to skin a cat (I’m told).
There’s more than one way to impose reality, to enforce a limited number of narratives.
Plantation owners used to make sure their slaves came from different parts of Africa, so not everyone had the same language. There could therefore be only a few conversations, in the margins and incapable of spreading easily.
Warning: CRASS COMPARISON AHEAD.*
Conference organisers who set up sage-on-the-sage, keynote-itis and death-by-powerpoint actually minimise (whether it is their intention or not), the likelihood that the people who come will graduate from audience/ego-fodder to participants. The most useful and inspiring conversations and connections are so often the ones that happen in spite of the organisers, not because of them.
I am not trying to compare the suffering of people stolen from Africa, enduring the Middle Passage and then getting shat on when they arrived in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave with that fraction of the privileged population that gets to be ego-fodder at plush hotels. All I am trying to do is say that the Powerful like the sound of their own voices, and dislike the sound of anyone else’s voices…