Yesterday, we finished putting together what might be the final version of the program for this year’s MLG Institute on Culture and Society to be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago from June 20-24, 2007. It looks like it will be a truly swell time this year and if you find yourself in the Chicago area at that time, feel free to stop by, learn, contribute, discuss, etc. Here, in no particular order, a selection of (keynote) speakers that may persuade people to attend the institute and/or join our fine organization (the Marxist Literary Group–we are an MLA affiliate–the MLG has a long tradition of bringing together excellent scholars and producing and disseminating cutting-edge theoretical and critical work–and reputedly has the most popular cash bar at the annual MLA convention):
Ato Quayson, Neil Larsen, Jeffrey Williams, Walter Benn Michaels, Susan Willis, Fredric Jameson, Paul Smith, Peter Hitchcock and many more (including also skunk and yours truly as minor players in the game–not even rookies, really–in fact I am still hoping to be drafted this fall).
Regarding the draft: we just had a departmental meeting for those of us that are going on the job market this fall–and it scared the crap out of me. It is not just the sheer number of different tasks that have to be accomplished between now and, well, next March/April, but also what we were informed will be the psychologically devastating pressure of throwing yourself on the market, requiring us to apparently see this as humorous experience if we want to remain sane and refrain from killing ourselves. At this point, however, I still do not quite see the humor in the potential to have worked my ass off for years, sacrificed and kind of social life I might have had, bleached my skin down to uncooked turkey level by never leaving my desk apart from the occasional teaching activity…and ending up with no job, or a crappy adjunct position! I guess you have to be tenured to find that funny. So I will just force myself to take baby steps and concentrate on the little things that have to get done in the near future in order not to drive myself completely insane. This means that prior to September (when the job list comes out), or early October (when you begin to send out applications) I will have to put together hundreds of pages of shite, including things like a “statement of teaching philosophy” (which at this point only reads “I do not like my students to be capitalist dumbasses without critical thinking skills and the desire the look beyond the dominant ideology”–but I might revise that). Apart from all this paperwork that includes more weird stuff than I expected (and I expected a LOT of weird stuff) I will have to finish my dissertation (still a tremendous amount of work to do there), prepare two writing samples, ideally write some stuff for publication on the side, prepare my classes for the fall, give a mock job-talk, work on and market an edited collection of essays I am trying to get published with a friend/colleague, go to the Library of Congress for a month to do the archival research I need to complete before June 30, present at two conferences, move to a new place and deal with the fact that I will be turning fucking 30 in the beginning of the fall. I could so easily freak out right now. Doesn’t really seem like I will be able to quit smoking this summer. But whenever a meeting makes me feel this way I just loudly listen to the Aerzte’s “Hip Hip Hurra!” and everything is fine again (well, not really, but at least I can smile again and make myself focus on the next baby step I need to take). Today’s baby step is to finally finish that freakin’ chapter that has been hanging over my head. It is just too long and I have serious problems cutting stuff. But I will finish that today and then begin polishing the next chapter, which should be done by May 15 (since I have another writing deadline for June 1). So: baby step number one: I will need to get back to exploring in depth what it means for the philosophy of history when we compare getting eaten by a prehistorical animal 500.00 years ago to getting eaten by a dinosaur in 1993. I have a quite interesting argument about that, which I will waterproof now.
Today’s ‘Dick Cheney for the Day’
Today’s ‘Marcuse for the Day’:
The fetishism of the commodity world, which seems to become denser every day, can be destroyed only by men and women who have torn aside the technological and ideological veil which conceals what is going on, which covers the insane rationality of the whole–men and women who have become free to develop their own needs, to build, in solidarity, their own world. The end of reification is the beginning of the individual: the new Subject of radical reconstruction.
P.S.: regarding the representative accuracy of the above picture: when I freak out in front of my writing I am usually wearing two ties.