Day 390: Tadadadadadadadaaaaaaa

Yes, I play virtual brass instruments.

Also, I have a job. I got the contract in the mail yesterday and signed it last night in one of my favorite dive bars. While signing the contract felt great, we had another distinct hint of a doubled “reaching/deferring objet petit a” moment (the plan for this event was to get, well, ridiculously lit, but that was not possible due to the fact that I have a lot of writing to do this weekend). So the “lighting” will have to wait a few more days. Still, I slept great last night (a job and a few beers/shots help tremendously in the nightly effort to forget the fact that I haven’t slept in a real bed for over five years now–aaah, the crazy luxuries of the gainfully employed).

But, to get to the job: it’s a tenure track, assistant professor position at Saint Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s a great job and my final decision to go there was incredibly easy to make. It’s a beautiful university with an excellent commitment to both teaching and research (their site contains info about their impressive past rankings), the teaching load is relatively low, which means that I will have time to write and publish, the students are extraordinarily bright, and the department is very young, energetic and exceptionally friendly. The English department has recently hired (and will be hiring) a lot of young, promising faculty (last year they hired a 19th century American scholar from Hopkins, this year they hired a 20th century British scholar from Cornell and they are looking to add two new people in two additional fields next year). In addition to this, the established faculty members I met are very welcoming, collegial and do really interesting work (the fact that I feel a strong ideological connection doesn’t hurt either). They flew me in for three days in early February and, despite the fact that the schedule for the campus visit (teaching demonstration, job talk, interview, …) was packed, it immediately struck me how pleasant this department made this visit, which, as you know if you’ve ever done campus visits/job talks, is a quite remarkable feat and thus immediately signaled to me that this department would be a terrific fit. Ok, now I guess it’s back to writing for me. Oh, I forgot: I’ll be teaching 20th/21st century American literature (and occasionally courses in literary theory and cultural studies). Oh, and something else: Nova Scotia is gorgeous!!! Nature! I’m so happy!

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Day 383: Almost

But still not yet. We’re still in the Blochian phase of things. I am still holding my breath. However, the Blochian phase is really not so bad. After all, forward dawning is not just the location of utopia but also the birthplace of desire and enjoyment (or so I’m told by people who evidently are not as chronically impatient as I am–but I can see what they mean–it also explains the link between pleasure and pain when considered from the perspective of the paradox of desire). Less cryptically: the contract is in the mail. It will get here by the end of next week. Only then, once my signature is actually on the paper, will I allow myself to celebrate, and only then will I reveal what has happened/is happening/will be happening. Should the contract get here before next weekend and should all go well and should I have signed it by next weekend, all of Chicago’s north side better put on a helmet, because this boy has a lot of celebrating in him that needs to get out (for a detailed discussion of why this is necessary see Bataille’s discussion of the concept of squandering excess for an economic system in The Accursed Share, Vol.1) . But until then the official part line remains: no congratulating and no celebrating yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Day 374: Depeche Mode

Yes, if you like them, you must have liked my blog recently (lame “Enjoy the Silence” reference).

Explanation: stuff is going on and I don’t want to jinx it. Also, chances for that stuff that’s going on to actually happen (i.e. produce results) are really slim, so I have to force myself not to think about it, which has the same effect as someone telling you not to think of an elephant (you think of an elephant–just in case that wasn’t clear). But: stuff may or may not be happening.

Other current projects that take up my time:

1. I am training for the first annual Summarizing Infinite Jest World Championship.

2. I am preparing the launch of my new line of merchandise–evidently you don’t have to be famous any more these days to release your own fashion/fragrance line (mine will include shirts with my confused faced as standard logo and a variety of lines that say things such as “Heisenberg may or may not have been here” — my current fragrance that will be released later this week is “Eau D’Espair for Men”–it will be part of a Humanities Ph.D. toiletry set).

3. I am advising a friend on the pros and cons of getting various Greimas-squares tattoos.

Just thought I’d bring you up to speed.

Day 333: The Last MLA Post for the Next Ten Months

Even in times of postmodernism, it seems as though irony will not have to fear for its life as long as the MLA continues to host its annual convention.

I just got this link from a friend–it’s an alternative MLA site that lampoons, impressively accurately, this year’s program, MLA behavior and even, also quite accurately, the floor plan of one of the headquarter hotels. I also love the alternative Chicago poster–this would have been a lot more fun, had they adopted it as the official convention poster. Go Chicago! here the link:

http://www.mlade.org/

Day 326: Back Again and Almost Sober

Yes, I have re-emerged from the swamp of self-pity and alcohol abuse I was caught in for about a month (which climaxed spectacularly over the course of Christmas, which I exclusively spent with myself, the movie theater, bars, beer, shots, and, for good measure, the occasional Irish car bomb) and have entered the (ironically quite Bruce Willis-ean “with a vengeance”) “fuck it, I’ll keep working my ass off and show you what you passed up” stage. The last I have to say about what transpired in the last two to three months is this: you thought 2 girls 1 cup was disturbing and emotionally scarring? Try 400 Ph.D.s 1 job! You can catch it annually at the MLA convention.

As far as blogging is concerned, this site will from now on return to its roots and accompany me in the next three to four months as I finish revising/writing the last two chapters of my dissertation (we are at the moment looking at 8 chapters, excluding intro and conclusion, of which about 6 1/2 exist in more or less completed stages). Concretely, this means that I will not be posting about whiny job market and personal life shite any more (part of the elaborate process of repression I have developed in order to replace perpetual inebriation–for practical reasons: it’s a lot cheaper) and will instead return to posts on (critical) theory and contemporary issues in literary/cultural studies.

hope everyone’s well out there and had a good start into the new year–cheers,

 cj

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?