Watching Alain Resnais’s Mon oncle d’Amerique


A short related sequence:

 

 

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AGENT SWARM

Mikhail Emelianov a publié un article intéressant sur la vie des intellectuels qui n’ont pas obtenu un poste universitaire. L’article est équilibré, évitant les écueils du triomphalisme (je gagne plus dans un boulot mille fois mieux) et de la honte  (ma vie n’est qu’un échec, je suis un raté). Il n’a pas fait carrière à l’université, de ce fait il a pu effectuer une auto-analyse de l’agencement des capacités et des affects qui ont composé son parcours universitaire et qui s’agence autrement dans un contexte de vie non-académique. Mikhail Emelianov trouve que tout n’est pas perdu de ses longues années d’étude, qu’il a dévéloppé des compétences transférables à d’autres types d’emploi, et qu’il peut apporter une approche individuelle, informée de son expérience universitaire, dans son travail actuel. Il constate que son individuation intellectuelle ne s’arrête pas du simple fait d’avoir quitté l’environnement académique.

Contrairement à un préjugé répandu, l’académie et…

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On Never Quite Finishing Any of Zizek’s Books


I “discovered” Zizek when I read his small book on Lacan (Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lacan: But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock). It was the summer of 2001, I believe, and I read the whole thing in maybe a week. Then came other Zizek’s “philosophical” books and I sort of read them here and there. Then came the thick ones: I read about a third of The Parallax View (selectively, flipping through chapters). I started In Defense of Lost Causes and read it for a few weeks, never finished it. I read the “blue” one (Living in the End Times) while stuck in a waiting room at a hospital (and then a room at a hospital) but also did not finish it because the hospital stint was over and I put it down as soon as I got home.

I read about 200 pages of Less Than One. I am not likely to ever finish that one either.

Has anyone ever finished a book by Zizek? I mean really read it from cover to cover?

Employed Positivity of a Post-Academic


Every time I think about my present gainful non-academic employment, I think about all the other former academics who are currently not employed as academics – there has to be a large number of us out there, given the odds of getting an academic job these days (I do not count the adjuncts, I count full-time benefited positions with long-term contracts ) – the silent majority, if you will. Where are all these people? What do they do with their lives? How do they survive? What are they thinking about? Do they hope against all hope that the system will magically change and they will get their fair chance? Are they working on some academic writings hoping that the compound effect of a few essays and maybe a book will eventually lend them a job? Do they think about giving up? Do they regret going to graduate school? Are they hiding because they think of themselves as “failed academics”?

Many of these questions will obviously never be answered – not by me, not by you. Continue reading

Illusion of Free Time


Having taken a rare day off this week, I found myself doing what I do best – sitting around doing nothing. When I was still a graduate student, I did this a lot. It took me three years to finish my dissertation, but I only spent 5-6 months out of those three years doing anything related to dissertation research or writing. During my short tenure as a full-time university lecturer I spent long days, weeks even, sitting in my office doing absolutely nothing. Well, not nothing nothing, of course, but nothing that would count as academic work. Now, having been gainfully employed full-time and outside of academia, I dream of having free time. I work on my “academic” interests on the weekends, early in the mornings and late at nights. I get more “stuff” done now because I know that this is all the time I have and if I don’t sit down and write something down, it will simply never happen otherwise. I don’t work for any particular reason, I don’t have any real hope of securing a full-time academic job – not because of the market, but because I haven’t applied for any jobs for the past three cycles. I am not likely to ever apply for an academic job. It wasn’t a conscious choice on my part. It just happened. And now suddenly having been freed from the peer-pressure to “make it” as an academic, I am full of ideas and desperately short of time.

The illusion of free time to come is the ultimate academic illusion, it seems. First you work to get a degree, then, or so I am told, I wouldn’t know myself, you work to get tenure, then you work to get promotion, then – to get reputation, then – to impress your grandchildren. My “academic” work now is my hobby. You play a fiddle and get drunk at an Irish pub every now and then, I read Hegel and translate Bogdanov. We are both enjoying our hobbies. Am I “outside of academia”? No, I have never been inside it. And I am beginning to like it – I really hope it’s the magic of some sort of self-deception, an academic version of “you can’t fire me, I quit!” But wherever it is coming from, I welcome it.

Well, something like that…