It came off pretty well.
Some of the usual suspects had to voice their opinions and criticisms, but not too badly.
One of the advantages, perhaps, of taking people's criticisms to heart is that it may impel one to search for solid information that either confirms or challenges the criticisms and/or one's initial point of view. This can lead to greater subtleties of perception and interpretation. From that standpoint, it becomes easier to catch people in the act of projection, crude agenda-based thinking, etc.
So, in the Q & A, I was diplomatic but I also challenged some of the apparently underlying assumptions that were being used to criticize my work. One "champion" of my work stepped forward to express his appreciation of the approach I was taking in my work, and I thanked him for that.
A large part of what's going on is that I have had trouble engaging in critical thinking in the moment, in social settings. If someone starts pushing my buttons around shame or self-doubt, it's as if there is a cascading effect of increasing self-doubt that leads to a kind of paralyis, and all I can do then is to endure the feelings until I can withdraw. That doesn't often work out well.
What I'm starting to do instead is to face people who have opposed me, or who have rubbed me the wrong way, and try to engage with them in a spirit of curiosity. I'm not into appeasement, but rather kind of stubbornly being present as they are present and seeing what happens.
I did come to some better understandings of some of these people, and also articulated some of the challenges that I face in my immediate academic environment, and in my larger North American professional environment.
I do have to say that it has been useful to read some Continental philosophy recently. It makes it easier to catch people, who are claiming to stand up for the proper leftist values or whatever, engaging in some pretty crude dualistic thinking that pretty effectively undermines the supposedly liberationist perspective they claim to represent against their "opponents." I find it hard to believe that, even though I am just beginning to read some of the major recent authors, my take on the kinds of issues they address seems to be quite a bit subtler than what I typically hear going on around me. Having said that, however, it is at least good to hear people trying to address issues like these, rather than being as clueless about them as most of the people in my academic environment.
So, there is some food for thought involving myths twisted around myths of isolation on various levels. One good thing is that I am happy to lay this project aside now and to focus on some others that have been looming on the horizon.