Following up on Job Cogburn's post about the job market cycle, here's a great line from John Symons about the Eastern APA: "because of the job process, the Eastern meeting has a bizarre and depressing freakshow quality." No doubt.
The depressing part is something we're all about here at PJMB, but I feel like maybe I've neglected just how bizarre it is. So for grad students or civilians who've never been, let me tell you about something deeply fucking weird.
The better departments interview in hotel suites, but most departments can't afford that. So instead, they interview at a table--a crappy, folding banquet table in the middle of a massive corporate hotel ballroom filled with hundreds of crappy folding banquet tables, each with its own philosophy department doing its own interviews for hours and hours.
So you arrive at the room at 2:55 for your 3:00 interviews, and you stand at the side of the room with all the other people waiting for their 3:00 interviews, everybody looking on from the wall, and everybody feeling like the girl at the eighth grade dance whose orthodontic headgear meant she couldn't even bob her head in time to the Rick Astley without drawing all the wrong kinds of attention to herself.
When your watch says it's 3:00, you start to wind your way between the tables, with luck aiming in the direction of the one your interview's at. But the tables are really close to each other. Like, maybe there's six or seven feet between people's chairs. So you're trying get your game on, and you keep hearing random little things about Sidgwick and Kierkegaard and structural realism.
But the noise is only really a problem when you manage find your table, shake everybody's hand and get into your interview. Then you keep hearing the loud guy interviewing six feet behind you talking about mereology, and that's really fucking distracting. But the distractions aren't just auditory, because the room gets so hot someone opens the fire escape door, which lets in a bunch of pigeons. So you're trying to answer a question about how you'd teach a course on something you don't know anything about, and out of the corner of your eye you keep seeing tables off to your left getting dive-bombed by greasy birds who spend their whole lives eating out of corporate hotel dumpsters. Some rambling old senior prof is asking you a question and all you can process is "blah blah blah" because you can't stop thinking, "Oh fuck, is that nasty flying rat going to fucking shit on me?"
But the worst distraction is the scale of it all. It's weird and bizarre and unreal. You can't look up without seeing hundreds and hundreds of philosophers in every direction. You can't look up without thinking, you're treading water in the middle of an ocean of desperation and socially awkward chit-chat.