Ding-Dong-Ding-Dong This Year Sucked
Another little update
I feel guilty for not writing.
On the whole, this year has been pretty terrible. In January, the day before my birthday, I fainted at a coffee shop and fell on my face, breaking my nose, two front teeth, and splitting my lip. When I got to the emergency room, my blood pressure was something like 60/40 which, apparently, is not great. Thankfully, I didn’t have any brain damage and the outpouring of support (both financial and moral) helped me recover through a nose surgery and about three months of dental work. A year later, my teeth and lip still feel off and my nose will always be just a little crooked now, but it’s nothing that interferes with my day-to-day life. My goal for this next birthday is to stay out of the emergency room.
That spring semester was my last one teaching and my last one in philosophy. As I’ve written about before, this has been a difficult transition. On the one hand, I loved teaching and had spent the last decade structuring my life around the hope that I would be doing philosophy in some form or fashion. On the other hand, it’s fair to say that my time in the doctoral program was a six year exercise in disillusionment. Put simply, academic philosophy did not turn out to be what I thought it was. Surely, party of this disillusionment is due to my own inability to meet the standards of the profession—I certainly don’t think I’m immune to rationalization. But I also think that a much bigger part of it has been getting much more interested in politics and into reading the kinds of texts that aren’t taken seriously in analytic circles (i.e., books on the history of politics, economics, psychology, etc.). From that perspective, the narrow, abstract, hair-splitting, cottage-industries of analytic philosophy slowly began to look like a useless (and often reactionary) enterprise.
In any case, my time in the academy was over in May, which started a four-month period of unemployment. My previous assumption that PhD’s don’t just end up dead in a ditch somewhere was seriously challenged: I submitted something like 100 applications for every possible job that I could and received zero phone calls during those four months. Simply put, I was too “overqualified” for entry-level jobs, and too “underqualified” for anything above entry-level jobs. Cool! I was two weeks from my unemployment insurance running out and seriously considering going back to school for another master’s in an unrelated field when I finally landed a job (I landed it through networking, not through sending out applications—let that be a lesson to whoever needs it). This four-month period was brutal. I severely underestimated the psychological toll of being unemployed and just how much of my own sense of well-being was tied in working towards something. Thankfully, this chapter is over and I’m working a job that I enjoy and which is significantly better paid than anything I would have had chasing positions in philosophy.
Finally—and I know how absurd this sounds coming from my privileged position—but the outbreak of hostilities in Gaza has been on my mind constantly every day for the last two and a half months. Indeed, whatever final vestiges of respect I had for professional philosophers since leaving have been swept away since October 7th. The incredible degree of cynicism, indifference, and reactionary rhetoric coming from people who think about politics and ethics for a living, and the embarrassingly bad arguments they’ve advanced to carry water for a regime engaged in an ethnic cleansing has made me glad I’m no longer around (to be fair, I’m sure others are glad I’m not around as well). One of the reasons I haven’t been writing is because the only thing I want to write about is this specific issue and I’m very aware that criticizing philosophers for their hypocrisy is just about the most useless thing I could be doing in light of the material conditions on the ground. Maybe one day I’ll put out the drafts of things I wrote, but that time isn’t now.
My hope for next year is to get back to finally finish this series on Benjamin, to work out some ideas I’ve been kicking around, and to put my thoughts on paper about some of the movies I’ve loved this year (I just saw Eyes Wide Shut for the first time! What a movie!).
To the people who still open up these emails from me, thank you so much! I love you all (except for the ones I don’t)
Until next year: