this effed up world i’ve chosen

17Nov09

For what’s ostensibly an academic blog, there’s been very little in the way of academic topics for the past few months. Part of that is probably because the kind of stuff I’m supposed to be working on at this stage in my program is so specific that I can’t really write about it. If I’m too specific, I reveal who I am. If I’m too vague, then what I write has little meaning. (There’s certainly an argument here for a few password-protected posts, although I don’t think I have a large enough readership for that move not to seem pretentious.) But I think another part of it is that I’ve become so disenchanted with so much of academia and academic life lately. The return from abroad was rough; I didn’t want to come back to the US at all, let alone back to the university. And now that I’m back, I remember why I pretty much ran out the door a few years back: the pettiness, the thinly veiled elitism, the unnecessary competitiveness when no competition actually exists, and the deep flaws both in my program/university and in academia as a whole. I can’t say I was “happy” when I was gone but whatever I was was significantly better than this. To make it worse, I don’t even love my project. I like it fine enough but just liking it isn’t really enough to sustain me when I’m being dropped in the deep-fat fryer, as has tended to happen fairly consistently over the years. Academia is so screwed up and is clearly not meant for people like me: people who need more in their life than the life of the mind but who didn’t arrive in graduate school with the support system of family and spouses in place. I think the only thing keeping me going is the fact that I love my field and I’m excited about future projects that will reflect my scholarly interests more accurately than my dissertation, cobbled together from a set of interests that were less “interests” and more “the only things i learned about during the disastrous coursework phase.” But at a point, I have to wonder whether the promise of future academic pursuits can get me through what has been and is continuing to be a fairly awful phase of my life.

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