Day 310: Cloverfield

I need to see a different post than Day 306 when I get to this page. Hence, just quickly, here some info on a new movie that’s coming out in a little less than a month, which I am quite excited about (mainly because of the flurry of cultural, affective and marketing activity surrounding the release and the production of the film). It’s a new J.J. Abrams production that seems to be very much in the spirit of Lost. Here some basic background info. I also love the film’s aesthetics (of destruction) and the fact that it is entirely filmed with handheld cameras.


Day 306: Bad Ideas

Bad Idea 1:

you decide to base your carreer decision not on concerns such as money, potential for fame, or marketability in social situations/pick-up lines in bars, but you go with your conscience and make an entirely ideological/idealistic decision. Hence, you choose academia and a life of the intellect, which you try to justify and desublimate from its lofty realm of what to MBAs appears to be splendid isolation from reality by formulating massive counter-interpellation based on the attempt to revive ideals such as critical thinking and social justice as the ultimate goal of your life. Thus far this seems like a good idea. What transforms it into a bad idea, however, is that the corporate university is being restructured in a way that it will be almost impossible to actually find a job that will allow you to do all these things. Becoming an assistant professor in marketing, engineering, biology… : easy. Becoming an assistant professor in the humanities: not that easy. Result: you train for the day that you will be able to start a carreer and make all your goals a reality and are then forced to sell out on alternative job markets, because capitalism quite paternalistically bars access to your object cause of enjoyment (which is not so much deferred as it is rendered illusory).

Bad Idea 2:

There are a few remaining jobs in academia for humanities professors each year, i.e. there is a slight chance of getting a job. In the field of English, choosing to specialize in composition and rhetoric (i.e. jobs in “writing across the capitalist curriculum” and “neoliberal service learning”), 18th and 19th century literature, etc. = good idea. Choosing to specialize in 20th/21st century literature, combined with a rigorous commitment to critical theory (however, not to deconstruction and poststructuralist postcolonial studies) and American Studies = bad idea. Just in case you were wondering, the chances of getting a job in this field are, depending on the position, between 250:1 and 350:1. Buying a sratch-off, low-win lottery ticket for each application you send out is therefore a good idea. If you get a job you’ll also win a few thousand bucks.

Bad Idea 3:

There is a German saying that says that sharing your pain with others means that you will only have to deal with half the pain. This may generally be a good idea and therapeutic to some degree. If, however, the only people you can share your pain with are living through the same pain, this turns into a bad idea. The equation in this case changes to: shared pain creates a closed set/system that escalates until everyone in the system reaches a state of emotional death, therefore consolidating the entropic equilibrium of disillusionment indicative of the closed system of the pool of humanities Ph.D.s on the job market.

Bad Idea 4:

Attempting to hold on to Oedipal, binary definitions of subjectivity meant to stabilize your emotional constitution. All such attempts will eventually reveal themselves as merely temporally stable, hence Oedipalism in the end also loses to the inevitability of job-market-induced entropy. An example: I had my mock job talk on Thursday (which went relatively well). After the talk I ran into a colleague who was waiting for his turn. My job talk had ended with the usual combination of encouragement and devastation (professors telling you that “you have a fantastic project and you will definitely be a professor–maybe not this year, but eventually–you know, it just such a crapshoot”) and I thus left the room caught in the usual combination of elation and utter depression. This mood, however, immediately changed upon seeing my colleague: haggard, shifty, his eyes barely able to look away from his feet that constantly, nervously and poignantly moved in place, he asked me: “so, have YOU heard anything? Have you gotten any calls?” “No,” I replied, then quickly adding, “but they just told me it’s still early. Most calls won’t go out until the 17th this year. There is still hope.” “Whatever,” he replied, surprisingly loudly, for a brief moment of strangely energetic spinal erection casting off that rock that up until that moment seemed to have weighed him down, “I can’t wait that long. I’m going nuts, man. Every time the phone rings I sprint across my apartment, knocking over all kinds of shit, just to find out that it’s someone else again. I don’t think I can last until the end of next week. I’m ready to walk into traffic, man.” That last sentences was followed by a nervous, desperate chuckle and the return to his previous habitus, that was simultaneously reminiscent of a Morbus Bechterew patient and an old rubber boat leaned against the side of a wall that was just punctured by the pocket knife of the small town’s richest family’s snotty 8-year-old. Thus, looking into his eyes that quickly returned to staring at his feet as if in a desperate attempt to hold on to the last remnant of a quickly fading idea of the potential for positive progress and movement into the future, I knew he was serious. The bad idea on my part was this: I felt strangely proud of myself for keeping it together so well, for not yet succumbing to complete depression, for dealing with this insane stress and existential insecurity so rationally. This was the binary I attempted to construct and hold on to. Turns out, however, that there was no binary, just temporality. Turns out he was just one day ahead of me.

Out of solutions, not even repression working any more at this point, the possibility of distraction by focusing on the insane amount of work I have before me (first grading then writing) disappearing increasingly, bad ideas appear to be all that remains at this point: heavy nightly drinking, followed by Tylenol PM to get to sleep, aspirin, a vitamin pill and coffee to clear the head for work in the morning…lather, rinse, repeat until head feels less/completely numb.

I managed not to smoke again, though.

Day 299: I’m Sorry

I know I’ve been increasingly digitally (as well as physically) anti-social for the last, well, weeks and months, actually. My thoughts are just completely colonized by job market and writing issues and this to the extent that I am finding it hard to sleep at night. This week I’ve in fact been trying to contact Sam Elliott, asking him to read me Cormac McCarthy novels to help me fall asleep (which seems like one of the most effective forms of relaxation to me–it’s a voice thing). Alas, it seems as though this plan will not work out. He’s busy with some movie.

Apart from harassing actors, I am currently trying to write an article on 9/11, the desiring structures the event produced and their effect on contemporary cultural production. I also gave my first finals this week and have to grade them along with my first stack of final papers (I’ll be getting more next week–those that are still in preparation will probably be sent to me in draft form over the weekend for comments and suggestions, so I’ll have to do a round of pre-grading as well). Additionally, I have to start working on two other writing projects, which I may initially have to put on the back burner for a while, since I have my departmental mock job interview on Thursday. Our department sets these up to prepare us for the real thing. They assemble a committee that will simulate real conditions (or ideally, conditions that are tougher than that). Fun fact about my committee: one of the members will be Gerald Graff. Despite the fact that this scares me somewhat, I figure if I am able to do half way well in the eyes of the actual PRESIDENT of the MLA,  the actual MLA interviews should not freak me out too much any more, right?

Ok, that’s about it for now. I’ll try to be better about posting in the future–the overall pace of my life surely has to slow down sometime and leave me room for posting etc. again, no?

Day 293: Flight of the Conchords

I am still desperately trying to finish an article while fighting off the remnants of my cold’s second attack wave that hit me last weekend. My brain is still rather mushy, hence I have to take frequent writing breaks that are devoted to tea with honey and some gentle comedic brain-exfoliation. My current go-to comedic duet: Flight of the Conchords. I haven’t enjoyed New Zealand exports this much since the second half of Death Proof. Here two examples (the first one is hardcore gangsta rap, which, I hope, won’t offend any of my readers; the second one is a piece I like to listen to if I want to put myself in a sexy mood–saucy!). Enjoy.

Day 292: Lars and the Real Girl

I just saw Lars and the Real Girl. What a beautiful little film. It’s been a long time since I had to hide my tears at the end of a film about a man who orders a sex doll online–and the best thing is: none of the parts of this previous sentence are ironic, sarcastic, or meant to be a joke. What a beautiful little film. Again, as so often, I am with Marcuse when it comes to the importance of the emotional tie. There is much sociopolitical potential in it. Love isn’t sappy. It’s radical. It’s progressive.

Hug somebody today. It may hurt at first (like frozen feet that begin to thaw when you get back inside), but you can work through it.