Category Archives: phdismal

a journey of self-discovery OR soul death?

National unemployment is still kicking my ass, as is the fact that, despite having almost no skill set (no, snark and an autistic-like ability to recite stretches of dialogue from 80s movies are apparently not in demand with the corporate set, who knew), I am vastly “overqualified” for all positions out there.

It’s to the point where I am considering lying outright and telling potential employers that I’ve been backpacking around Southeast Asia or living in an ashram just so I don’t have to go through the rigmarole of explaining that, no, you really can’t have a job when you’re enrolled in a full-time doctoral program, and yes, if something better comes along than this nine dollar an hour data entry soul-killing horrendousness,  I will, in fact, quit. I mean, people are into that Eat, Pray, Love shit, aren’t they? Maybe they will think I am noble rather than someone who keeps aggressively pursuing higher education for no other reason than it seems to be a bastion of marginally sane secularism in our increasingly batshit country.

So that’s fun. Except for how it, you know, totally isn’t.

Also fun? Cover letters, the genre of quiet fucking desperation and self-aggrandizement.

Part-time marketing work also provides me with words that make me think academic jargon is pretty, by comparison:

  • Leverage
  • Learnings
  • Webinar
  • Build out
  • Incentivize
  • Advertorial
  • Game-changer
  • Impactful

Good times can be had with this corporate buzzword generator.

*****

A playlist to stave off suicidal thoughts brought on by pleading job apps and marketing twats

Hedwig and the Angry Itch — Midnight Radio

David Bowie – Rock and Roll Suicide

Boston — Peace of Mind

Eliot Smith — Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud?

Supertramp — Breakfast in America

Wilco — Shot in the Arm

The Verve — Bittersweet Symphony

Tribe Called Quest — Rap Promoter

Beastie Boys — Super Disco Breakin’

Frank Black — Headache (listen to this last one at least six times running.)

or maybe a windmill?

More comics available here.

…à la Jonathan Creek?

And before my fangirling gets out of control, I will be perfectly honest. I thought that Jonathan Creek was kind of a shit show, despite Alan Davies having all the charm of a Cocker Spaniel puppy in real life.* The ingredients were good, if a little far fetched (Magician? Who lives in a lighthouse? And helps this intrepid journalist with oversized earrings and a chocolate biscuit addiction solve crimes? Who the fuck pitched that? Doing some internet research, by which I mean casually scanning Wikipedia, I see that it won a BAFTA. Really? Wow. That’s…dire).

There was probably the most stunning lack of chemistry between the male and female leads I have ever seen, save maybe for between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen in those Star Wars prequels. I didn’t believe that was unrequited or requited true love for one fucking second.

*Just a plug to say that if you’ve never watched QI (Quite Interesting), go do so immediately. It has been my ballast through multiple bouts of depression, ennui, and jaded irritability. I imagine Stephen Fry would be happy to hear so. His documentary on manic depression (The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive) is truly masterful, including interviews with Carrie Fischer and Richard Dreyfuss.

or maybe a windmill?

More comics available here.

…à la Jonathan Creek?

And before my fangirling gets out of control, I will be perfectly honest. I thought that Jonathan Creek was kind of a shit show, despite Alan Davies having all the charm of a Cocker Spaniel puppy in real life.* The ingredients were good, if a little far fetched (Magician? Who lives in a lighthouse? And helps this intrepid journalist with oversized earrings and a chocolate biscuit addiction solve crimes? Who the fuck pitched that? Doing some internet research, by which I mean casually scanning Wikipedia, I see that it won a BAFTA. Really? Wow. That’s…dire).

There was probably the most stunning lack of chemistry between the male and female leads I have ever seen, save maybe for between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen in those Star Wars prequels. I didn’t believe that was unrequited or requited true love for one fucking second.

*Just a plug to say that if you’ve never watched QI (Quite Interesting), go do so immediately. It has been my ballast through multiple bouts of depression, ennui, and jaded irritability. I imagine Stephen Fry would be happy to hear so. His documentary on manic depression (The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive) is truly masterful, including interviews with Carrie Fischer and Richard Dreyfuss.

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on the life of the mind

This is a repost from The Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s quite heartbreaking. The themes call to mind Louis Menand’s latest book, The Marketplace of Ideas.

For those of us clawing our way through doctoral programs, it certainly gives pause. His comments about how we are socialized to accept menial wages, insane hours, and untold amounts of stress and anxiety point to the tremendous paradox that lies at the heart of much (most?) upper-level education in this country.

If you’re well off– enough that you can live off a trust fund or stock margins while you pursue a doctorate, or marry someone who can support you during that decade-long process, you’re better off. If your folks will buy you a house, condo, apartment, and subsidize your cost of living, you’re good. If you don’t have to sling coffee or get a part-time job swiping meal cards at the dining hall, so much the better. And if you can eat out all the time or order in, with no fears of overdrawing your checking account for some mediocre Thai food, then you’ve saved a ton of time.*

So, in a frightening and deeply ironic way, the “life of the mind” is really only open to those who have the mental energy and economic resources to pursue it, without the impediments of physical life slowing down their time to degree.

I would definitely pass this article along to any students who were contemplating pursuing higher-higher education.

Thomas H. Benton

The Big Lie about the Life of the Mind

*Yes, I know that this is how life, in general, works. People with capital and resources always have an easier go of it than the proles and bourgeois classes. I’ve read enough Marx and Engels to know that’s pretty much an incontrovertible fact.But that doesn’t make it any less sad.

**Bourdieu said something similar, I think, about the dominant and dominated classes. Pretty sure that was Bourdieu.