This evening Columbia had a discussion/debate on the American Desert and was a great way to wrap up the semester; here is the synopsis:
A discussion of the American desert as a space of extreme uses and activities. The desert is a huge paradox: beneath the immensity and silence of its outward appearance, the traces of all kinds of activities, experiments, mysteries, fictions and utopias can be heard. Far from being "empty," the desert is full of an uninhibited, excessive activity that encompasses everything from oases of entertainment to the secret staging of military power. The most hostile and seemingly uninhabitable of environments turns out to be an ideal setting for action.