Another Past

The third section of this post is the one relevant to its title, but I have a few other things to say. Even before the first thing, and in preparation for tomorrow’s post, I announce that not only do I believe in living in VERY URBAN ENVIRONMENTS, I also believe in SURFING and BACKPACKING, this last at HIGH ALTITUDES. I further believe in doing these things as part of normal life, not at the end of a plane voyage. These opinions explain a great deal and I point them out to prepare my more assiduous readers for tomorrow’s post. I have been called superficial many, many times for having these interests and tastes, but I have determined at last that I am not superficial at all.

First:

Featured blogs for today are From Gaza With Love and Daily Routines. The first is heartrending and the second, fascinating. You discover how creative people organize their days. Each one is more eccentric than the last, and I want to read them all. (So far I identify most with the “Early Risers” and must clearly become one. The thought of putting off beginning work until afternoon is so depressing as to be scary. I read those routines and feel true dismay.)

Next: Notes from the MLA

1. People in S.F. for the first time kept marveling about how intercultural it is. I find it normal. I can finally relax. I am freed of that nagging feeling that someone is missing I get in many other U.S. cities.

2. Going from hotel to hotel to see different things, and especially threading yourself through the labyrinthine S.F. Hilton, is difficult.

3. The basement of the S.F. Mariott reminds me of an airport.

4. I liked the Spanish and Portuguese panels better than the English panels – except for the digital editing panels, of which I wish I had attended more – and became glad my line is not based in English (I sometimes wish it were).

5. I did not stay in a hotel but in an apartment from Craigslist. I am in it now. This comparatively inexpensive option is comfortable and very, very hip.

6. There were papers on poet friends of my parents, and retrospective panels on my former professors.

Finally: An Alternative World Fantasy

A friend in graduate school pointed out that the reason the university worked so well was that it had an enormous semi-secret corps of excellent assistant professors who were actually advanced graduate students, teaching up a storm at more levels than one realized and generating a great deal of research. I have now uncovered an old U.S. model of the academic ladder, in which that corps was no secret. Could a return to it help reduce student loan debt, the job crisis and the tenure trauma? Apparently the system was:

1. You do an old fashioned, fancy M.A. with a serious thesis, taking up to three years, during which time you are a T.A. with a low teaching load.

2. You are hired as an instructor, and this is a tenure track position. Via teaching, research and service you earn tenure, whereupon you are promoted to Assistant Professor. Not having the Ph.D., however, you cannot teach certain senior or any graduate courses.

3. If you do not wish to remain at this rank permanently, you go on sabbatical to take coursework toward the Ph.D. While working on your dissertation, you come home to teach. Your dissertation and the publications it generates as you write it gain you admission to the Graduate Faculty.

4. Your further work as an Assistant Professor and Graduate Faculty Member earn you promotions to Associate and eventually, Full Professor.

What do you think, Lumpenprofessoriat? Would this arrangement alleviate the current problems in any way? What are the various reasons why it would not work?

Axé.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Another Past

  1. I’m glad you are having a good time and learning a lot. We have found, also, that renting an apartment is better than staying in a hotel. I like to fix my own food, even when travelling. Somehow, a kitichen is always a good thing to have, don’t you think?
    I’ll be in SF in January for a few days and can hardly wait.
    But this Gaza thing has me terrified. It’s the thought of one and a half million people trapped and unable to flee as the bombs fall and the tanks are ready to roll in.
    Ugh.

  2. The one thing I don’t like about the apt. situation for the convention is that this one is too far away … I’ve been missing things for that reason. STILL, yes, the apt. concept is GREAT and in the future I will always do it.

    SF rules !!! Glad you get to come in January.

    Gaza, yes, I know. Bad.

  3. Cero

    Related to Daily Routines is another blog, How We Work, and linked to that are Walter Benjamin’s theses on how to write … which are great, like everything of his (I am a fan), and which have been posted by an English professor named Rita Raley, in whom I am now interested.

    Then I re-found and reread this New Yorker article on writer’s block, which is interesting and amusing. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/06/14/040614fa_fact?currentPage=all

    It called block “inhibition” and I realized that is what this blog rails about … my attempts to become more inhibited, appropriately inhibited, and so on, and how they worked all too well. Reeducation was about becoming more inhibited, the way it was insisted to me that one should “do” academia involved becoming more inhibited, and alcoholic families are, of course, all about inhibition (you cannot be free). The discovery of this word was very interesting. Even my refusal to sleep is partly about inhibition, trying to find a way to limit or inhibit living.

  4. Cero

    “I announce that not only do I believe in living in VERY URBAN ENVIRONMENTS, I also believe in SURFING and BACKPACKING, this last at HIGH ALTITUDES. I further believe in doing these things as part of normal life, not at the end of a plane voyage.”

    I do not know why I am so defensive except for the fact that I have so often been told it was eccentric to have these kinds of tastes, that I would grow out of them, and so on … and for the fact that I am so defensive about the idea that one should renounce both one’s professional interests *and* one’s recreational ones so as to pursue a simulacrum of said profession.

    At present I am looking at the programs in California law schools and they are exciting, moreso even than in the 20th century … I am SO starved for an active / intellectually stimulating / meaningful life, and I have been SO starved for this for SO long … !!! But they are expensive, expensive, expensive. Yet the cost of education is also estimated more realistically than it was in the nineties, so maybe the loan amounts would make it feasible (I did not go to law school then because I only got $7K a year in loans to live on, and couldn’t see how to do it).

  5. Cero

    P.S. I am being told that what I want is too deluxe. Real people have children, renounce, and move to the suburbs. Wanting to live in town and do things is too self indulgent. My own view is that engaging in repression and suffering is too self indulgent.

  6. That Daily Routines blog has inspired me for a while to get up and get to work.

    Are you really going to go to law school? California seems a great place to be, especially S.F.

  7. Hi y’all! Law school, yes but: I have to improve my LSAT to get into a UC, and I have to figure out how to get financial aid. The year you apply you have to have no income and no assets. One idea is to get a JD from the cheapest Louisiana school Southern in BR, and then do an LLM in California while looking for work and taking the California Bar. It’s hard to figure out financially … but I’ve just realized, to be taking or to have taken classes at Southern would be one way to show seriousness and improve chances of getting into a more exclusive school. Also: the inaugural class at the new UCI program is basically not being charged tuition.

  8. I like your alternative world fantasy. Anything that shortens time to tenure and shortens the years of low wage work is all to the good as far as I’m concerned. The place where I think this fantasy will run into reality is that it deprives universities of low wage teaching staff in two places — during the decade of graduate school, and then the even cheaper pool of Ph.D.’s working as adjuncts for indefinite periods after finishing their degrees. To get such a system rolling I don’t see any alternative but to reduce the total number of graduate programs and graduate students first. This is probably a good idea, but it would require collective action by faculty just like efforts to increase wages. And I think increasing wages for grad students and adjuncts would actually shrink many graduate programs just as effectively.

  9. “To get such a system rolling I don’t see any alternative but to reduce the total number of graduate programs and graduate students first. This is probably a good idea, but it would require collective action by faculty just like efforts to increase wages.”

    I’m for that. The overproduction is ridiculous, and the proliferation of ho-hum programs is, too … as is the neglect of the major that some of this proliferation causes.

    “And I think increasing wages for grad students and adjuncts would actually shrink many graduate programs just as effectively.”

    Oh, yes!!! Very interesting.

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