Academic Mondays: Things To Do While Waiting For Your Tenure Decision: Open Thread

What not to do:

– Think about it
– Talk to vicarious drama kings and queens who would like to help you think about it
– Take up nervous habits
– Open thread!

Alternatives, if you are nervous and must do something:

– Think, in a positive way, about alternative careers
– Think, in a positive way, about exactly how you would handle the job market at this time, if you must handle it: should you consider applying to a different kind of school? or not? what kind?
– Take up a hobby you have always wanted to
– Open thread!


32 thoughts on “Academic Mondays: Things To Do While Waiting For Your Tenure Decision: Open Thread

  1. How about the ever-popular “watch bad movies or tv to distract yourself” interspersed with the thoughts you mention? Anything that stops the obsessive thought process would be good.

  2. LOL, Paukaa! Hmmm … I guess I am weird. The “distract yourself” theory only distresses me more. I have “fun” that isn’t fun for me, and waste valuable time that could be spent making useful decisions and plans.

  3. Read every Spenser novel and think about the balance between law, ethics, and justice.

    1. Me: “Edmund Spenser wrote novels?”

      servetus revised: write the novels that Edmund Spenser would have written.

      1. I was thinking of Robert Parker, actually. 🙂 Though you could write some novels by Edmund Spenser, too.

  4. GRACIAS Moria! But: is it Edmund? It has to be a Spenser dealing in law, ethics, and justice…. Speak, Servetus!

    1. Sorry. The Spenser novels by Robert Parker. The first dozen or so balance these issues. The latest ones, written in the years just before his death, are pure formula, but Early Autumn and Looking for Rachel Wallace are interesting.

      1. No one ever believes that I have a sort of light side, but really I do. I read lots of things that were not written by dinosaurs.

        He was the major U.S. interpreter of Raymond Chandler. I was not a big fan of Chandler, and the sexism got to annoy me occasionally, but he also queried his own sexism. The later novels got very ironic.

        Early Autumn was the novel that emancipated me emotionally from my parents.

  5. Can’t you just say: “tenure is arbitrary, just like much of life. It might be better if I actually do not get it. The African jungle will embrace me like its only child”?

  6. That was what I said but I got a whole lot of h*** for it. My problem now is dealing with people who are up for tenure and who are so nervous that they can’t function.

    By this time one is very much invested in the idea of academic success (otherwise one would not have gotten so far — it starts with going on the market in the first place). One has been specifically trained not to think outside that box, not to think in terms of what one might really want for oneself, etc. So it is helpful to remind oneself to think otherwise.

    Also, some people really WANT to be able to stay in the place where they’ve made a home and so on. When you don’t make tenure you have to uproot yourself, often moving thousands of miles away. You must renounce a lot more than that job / a particular kind of academic career / etc. And usually you don’t have any kind of savings to back that up with. Most people are still paying on student loans, loans they have taken to finance going on the job market, or both.

    Finally, many people aren’t interested in being swallowed up by the jungle, and jungle inhabitants e-mail daily asking how they can get into graduate school here.

  7. Yes, it is difficult. The real difficult aspect is survival. It’s not whether one gets approved of or not, but the way that this is linked into the sheer ability to survive, which is so cruel. My scholarship is soon coming to an end, and so the sense of life’s cruelty draws closer again. I can more easily abstract myself from my Zimbabwean identity — which seems to be the key criterion for survival here. Perhaps I will make it okay. But always, in the back of my mind is the possibility of going wild, of subsistence living, somewhere where my misanthropy is well tolerated.

  8. Yes, survival is the difficult part of it. But in your case, you like your dissertation. You have to publish the book, for posterity. You might want to remain somewhat pure by not getting into the academic industrial complex — or at least, not in the traditional way. I wonder if you could live in Zim on some other income and teach at U of Z (if it is open) — it surely doesn’t pay enough to live on, and in a way that is good since you stay free even if you work there.

    Hmmm this is an interesting thought.

  9. Interesting thoughts, indeed, and I have been entertaining very similar ones.

    Right now I am battling through referencing and footnotes, as though through a thick haze. The procedure turns out to be (theoretically) easier than I had anticipated, hence much of this is due to a mental block. I am also somewhat hormonally discombobulated as the margins for error in time span for pill taking seem to narrow as I age.

    1. Keep going through that thicket! I have to get back to my article, it is abandoned due to departmental shenanigans. I do not, not, not spend enough time writing, and it is detrimental.

  10. Anyway,the reference date for a book should be the date when it was most recently published; the book you are reading from — right? — rather than when it was first published?

  11. I was taught to also refer to the date of the original.

    As in: Person, Professorial. _Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Sumeria._ 1869; McGraw-Hill, 2003.

    This depends on the format you’re using, what set of rules you’re following.

  12. Also I was reflecting on D&G last night, and I do believe that they have a huge flaw in their philosophy. There is a lot of good stuff, too, but like most positions that rely rather more on theory than on experience, they have drawn too wide a sweep concerning their theory of anti-oedipus. What they effectively end up doing is to say that “part object” thinking — ie. thinking that is traditionally ascribed to the early pre-Oedipal stage (although they rightfully argue it goes beyond this “stage”) — should take the place of thinking in terms of whole objects. In other words, it is a particular function that is associated with any person that is more important than the personhood of that person. The personhood of the person is not ontologically important — as that plays into the logic of Oedipus, which is what they want to dispense with.

    So D&G’s liberation from fascism and moral dogmatism seems inextricably linked to liberation from the influence of persons. One need not see the other as a whole person, but only see them in terms of what they can give to you; the particular function that they offer.

    I think this is not very liberatory, overall, from a feminist point of view. Too many males are already accustomed to viewing women as “part objects” in a way that relates to their experiences of their mothers. “A woman is one who nurtures me and makes me feel good.” “A woman is one who is malicious and mean, withholding nurturing.” These kind of perspectives involve the reduction of the whole woman to the function of nurturing. Such epistemological reduction of reality to the level of “part objects” does not, however, avoid the lure of moralising. We know that patriarchy does almost nothing else than moralise about women from the perspective of treating them as part-objects (functions or potential functions in the service of patriarchy).

    So I would say that although D&G want to align themselves with feminism in theory, they actually fail in practice.

    Feminism is the radical notion that women are persons.

  13. Servetus — I have got to read _Early Autumn_, then.

    Jennifer — That’s a *great* comment on D&G, at least I think it is. This was why I never got into them, so as to make available to me what is interesting in them, back in the day. I still need to seriously read them (as a person over 30).

  14. My dawning insight is that women may be able to shamanise more easily than males. By that I mean that they MAY find it more easy to access their natural powers of creativity born out of cataclysm/trauma more easily than males can most often do. Now I think about it, my dream was about cataclysm (Victoria Falls, and the bursting of the womb) that leads to redoubling oneself into a new force that is giving birth to a new society.

    Having said that, I think that Mike is a shamanistic male, one who is able to access the pre-existing primeval rhythms of destruction and regeneration within himself. To know the force of these powers is to give force to ones personality. I consider Mike to be one of the most masculine of men. The only thing with shamanism is that one should be able to ride the primeval forces like a wave — that way both the primeval forces and the higher mind are united. Anton Ehrenzweig sees, in the capacity to move between destruction and regeneration of perception, the key to creativity. Shamanism extends the process further as the destruction and regeneration of one’s very self. And even Freud took note of the pattern as inherent in our very biology – one submits to Thanatos when one goes to sleep. Waking up, one presumably comes under the sway of Eros.

    Frida Kahlo is the archetype of the female shaman, whose body, being shattered, gives her visions.

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