August 11th, 2005


Some con stuff; some not

Various folk who were at Interaction pnh, brisingamen have complained about the overcrowding of the rooms in the Moat House - my panels in Barra and Jura were turning people away, and the Jura panel was also constantly interrupted by clapping from the Filk room next door. There were certainly panels I would have gone to had I been able to get in.

It does make me wonder whether, in this age of e-mail and on-line polling, it is possible for con organizers to get from attendees, at some quite late stage, a sense of how many people are likely to attend particular panels and to sort out the room allocation in the light of such forecasts. I ask this question naively and in the sure and certain knowledge that there is probably some very good reason why not.

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Meanwhile, catching up on the news, I see that the Independent picked up on the destruction of all archaeological sites in Mecca on the grounds that to associate e.g. the birth of the prophet with a particular location which Muslims might value for that reason is idolatry in the eyes of the people currently running Wahabism.

The argument is that any construction of the human hand or mind might be worshipped and come between the good Muslim and his God. The trouble is that an obsessive fear of idolatry is itself potentially an object of idolatry when it conflicts with other duties, like solidarity with other believers, or indeed a broader community of humanity. An obsessive fear of idolatry is clearly a construct of the human mind and clearly becomes an end in itself at the expense of true religion. Maybe what Islam needs is not an Enlightenment so much as a heavy dose of its equivalent of scholastic philosophy as turned in on itself by an equivalent of the Jesuits.