Hello from Seattle! Over the next few days, I will describe some of the best things I saw at the 2015 annual meeting of the Law and Society Association (which was held from May 28-31). As I did back in 2013, my plan is to discuss one or two papers with high VOSFOTWOAS— Value Over Season Four Of The Wire Or A Separation.
Before getting to the recap, though, I want to remember Dan Markel. I did not know Dan very well, nowhere near as well as many other law professors or most of the folks who blog here. I met Dan in person exactly 5 LSA’s ago, in Chicago. I can remember the moment when I first saw him. He walked into a conference room with what I instantly recognized as the sleep deprivation that affects all new parents (and the glow that demarks the good ones). His hand was the first in the air during the questioning period then, as it was in nearly every other session I saw him at. I made a game to myself of trying to beat him to the punch in asking a question; I always lost.
I once read a piece in the New Yorker that, to my memory, said something like: people worry that caffeine will interfere with the real you, but after a while the person you are on caffeine is the real you.* I like to imagine (perhaps without warrant) that the person Dan was at conferences, Conference Dan, was the real Dan. Intense. Reveling in the attention of friends. Generous in facilitating connections. Enthusiastic about your ideas to the point of disregarding the rules of social comportment.
As the yahrzeit of his death approaches and I sit in a bustling hotel lobby, I miss Conference Dan, although this sense loss is infinitesimal compared to the ache that I feel for his family. I wish I had been able to better know Dan outside of these conferences. I still flip through the conference program to see what he is presenting. I schedule time for a Prawsblog happy hour that will not happen. I rush to raise my hand after the chair asks for questions, only to realize that it is alone in the air.
*A quick Googling suggests that the line closest line to the one I (mis-)remembered is this one by Malcolm Gladwell: “Part of what it means to be human in the modern age is that we have come to construct our emotional and cognitive states not merely from the inside out–with thought and intention–but from the outside in, with chemical additives. The modern personality is, in this sense, a synthetic creation: skillfully regulated and medicated and dosed with caffeine so that we can always be awake and alert and focused when we need to be.”