Monday, December 31, 2007

Who will kill the fattened calf?

In comments, someone asked, "Whatever happened to nth Year? Drop out, get a job, in jail, all the above?"

None of the above, I'm afraid.

My partner and I made a deal during the summer: I could spend all the time I wanted writing the dissertation and prepping articles (which meant never seeing her) so long as I wasn't writing blog posts when I could have been doing family stuff. Fortunately, the deal seems to have paid off, since we're still together, the dissertation is defended, and I've got a couple of articles under review. Now that we're on the other side of the APA -- and my interviews seemed to go pretty well -- I think there's a way for me to return to PJMB. (I've also got a number of reflections from APA interviews and interactions worth sharing.)

I may be showing up just as the party is dying down. But, I don't think that the passing of the eastern APA will be enough to tame the job market beast. At least not for me.

31 comments:

fashionista said...

I hated the APA with every fiber of my being, but...

It was a really excellent opportunity to people-watch, and the people-watching in question made me feel pretty good about myself in a number of ways. To wit, I realized that, compared to the average philosopher, I might as well be Cary Fucking Grant. Never have I encountered so many socially awkward, insufferably arrogant, badly dressed, and poorly coiffed people in one place in my entire life.

Seriously, does anyone ever get the impression that older male philosophers might be suffering from Asperger's syndrome or some form of mild autism?

As for fashion, don't even get me started. First, they really should consider renaming the APA the Eyeware Fashion Expo or something like that; this was the only sartorial arena in which people seemed to be trying to outdo one another. Second, there were a number of characters I kept seeing around the conference facilities that were just heinous. One was a guy with an ugly green suit, horned-rim glasses, a beard, a longish indie rock haircut that he had attempted to slick to one side (ostensibly for the sake of propriety) and little black plug earrings. Another was a guy with BLUE hair. He stuck out at the smoker like a sore thumb. Then there was "fedora man" - this really severe looking guy who was actually very handsome and dressed very well except that he wore this stupid brown fedora everywhere. He looked like an extra on the Untouchables or something. He must be really into the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. And there was a woman who was working a hideous Emily Dickinson bun coupled with red heels and what looked like seventeen or eighteen gaudy-ass scarves tied around her neck at once. I could go on, but the memories are starting to make me a bit sick.

VAP said...

I think it is in poor taste and quite silly to insult individual's clothes or style in an anonymous, but very popular forum. By the way, the guy with blue hair was probably Jesse Prinz. When you have published 5 books before 40 you most likely don't give a fuck about sticking out.

fashionista said...

Honey, silliness and poor taste tends to breed even more egregious silliness and poor taste. So spare me the sanctimony.

And by the way, the blue hair would still have been a major faux pas even if the guy was a recipient of a Genius Grant. I could care less. It was dreadful.

fashionista said...

Oh my goodness, it *was* Jesse Prinz! Well, he certainly is accomplished isn't he? But the blue hair... ugh. And he really should do something about the unibrow.

Anonymous said...

When I first read fashionista's post, I thought, "I didn't see anyone with blue hair." This despite the fact that I saw Jesse Prinz at the conference multiple times. Perhaps I think of Jesse as a person rather than "the guy with blue hair". Unlike Professor Prinz, many of the others who have been taunted probably do not have jobs and may well be struggling right now with self-doubt and anxiety. It's just cruel to add playground insults to the mix.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of people who can afford not to give a fuck about sticking out, "fedora man" might have been Steve Stich.

http://philosophy.rutgers.edu/IMAGES/FACULTY/stich.jpg

Anonymous said...

Anonymous self-righteousness--a new low in blogging?

(Yeah I know, anonymous criticism of self-righteousness is just as bad. But can't you find a more appropriate forum to demonstrate your moral superiority than a blog where insults and self-deprecating humor are the whole point?)

Paris "The Mind" Hilton said...

I didn't know Perez Hilton comments on this blog. That's hot.

Anon 9:15 said...

In a blog in which insults were actually the point, insulting someone for crassness would be appropriate. Moral superiority and fashion superiority are on a par, no?

Anon 9:36 said...

"Moral superiority and fashion superiority are on a par, no?"

Touché

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that some people here don't get Prinz's blue hair. Talk about a conservative profession!

vap girl said...

Fashionista is a jerk, but I couldn't help snickering a bit. I guess that makes me an asshole too.

I could be wrong, but the "fedora guy" I kept seeing was obviously there for interviews. He had a vintage 1930s sort of look which I actually thought was very cool - very stylish, put together, impeccably dressed. Looked a bit like a younger Clive Owen. (Okay, I'll just admit it - I thought he was hot).

I didn't see him wearing the fedora inside unless he also had his overcoat and gloves on and was obviously coming in or going out.

I didn't see anyone with blue hair. Lot of folks with a sort of "indie rock" style though. If we're going to talk about fashion (and I don't necessarily think we should, but...), I actually think the younger generation deserves more credit. There was a lot of style and class. I didn't see nearly as many beards as I thought I was going to (and there's nothing wrong with beards on the right face).

Prof. J said...

On a more pragmatic note, if terrible fashion actually bothers you, it might be wise to cut your losses now and get out of philosophy. Otherwise you're in for a lot of pain.

Anonymous said...

Only analytic philosophy. Continental philosophy tends to have an edge in the "hip" department (whatever its philosophical merits or lack thereof).

tt assprof said...

First, let's agree that dressing like a dentist or a country lawyer just isn't attractive. I kinda got the impression from Fashionista's post that, in her opinion, looking hick-gentry is looking good. And I think we can all agree that it's not. Looking good in Blacksburg, Va. or whatever, just shouldn't count.

Second, in my experience, at the APA the best dressed are usually the most desperate; and, as you go up the ladder, the more horrible you look. It always seemed like a status symbol to me.

I once saw David K. Lewis at Lincoln Center and, along with Kripke and the like, I suppose he's one of the people who have set "homeless" as the sartorial benchmark of philosophical success. Especially when surrounded by outrageously overdressed opera people, he looked gloriously like one big middle finger.

If that's right, we now have a kind of rule for "pretentious"/"pathetic"-discrimination at the APA.

So if you see a young guy, obviously in need of employment, walking around in dirty Chucks, dirty jeans, Salvation army sports jacket, and outrageous giraffe pattern tie--he is "pretentious." I mean, how dare he? He hasn't even published yet. He's a nobody!

But when you see an obviously senior person, who hasn't been to a philosophy conference in twenty years, having tagged along on a hiring committee, and obviously took great care along the lines of, I don't know, Nordstrom--you know to call her "pathetic."

Since I just got my job, so still quite junior, the only sartorial difference is that I no longer wear a tie.

I dream of one day having published enough to wear jeans again.

Anonymous said...

"I once saw David K. Lewis at Lincoln Center and, along with Kripke and the like, I suppose he's one of the people who have set "homeless" as the sartorial benchmark of philosophical success. Especially when surrounded by outrageously overdressed opera people, he looked gloriously like one big middle finger.

If that's right, we now have a kind of rule for "pretentious"/"pathetic"-discrimination at the APA.

So if you see a young guy, obviously in need of employment, walking around in dirty Chucks, dirty jeans, Salvation army sports jacket, and outrageous giraffe pattern tie--he is "pretentious." I mean, how dare he? He hasn't even published yet. He's a nobody!

But when you see an obviously senior person, who hasn't been to a philosophy conference in twenty years, having tagged along on a hiring committee, and obviously took great care along the lines of, I don't know, Nordstrom--you know to call her "pathetic.""

Awesome. Fucking awesome. Just one of the reasons I love philosophy.

Anonymous said...

TT Asst Prof has clearly never been to Blacksburg. There's a Banana Republic right next to the philosophy seminar room.

fashionista said...

Oh, lighten up children. Too much debating about externalism v. internalism and you've forgotten how to recognize satire? (Well, except for Paris Hilton, who clearly got the joke.)

Fashion aside, I stand by my conviction that many philosophers are socially retarded, as if they never learned the basics of ordinary social interaction. Good God! Just watch some of us checking into hotels or ordering food or tipping the airport shuttle driver. It's really rather ridiculous. Just because you're a philosopher doesn't mean you are "excused" from observing ordinary social customs, such as excusing yourself when passing gas or brushing your teeth before droning on and on about - oh, I don't know - qualia or whatever. Dress however you like, but for God's sake, TAKE A SHOWER, put on some deodorant, change your fucking shirt if it has catsup stains on it, etc.

tt assprof said...

Overheard at the Opium Den (probably now defunct) ten years ago:

"What's that smell? Is that Mickey Rourke?

"Oh no, it's Saul Kripke.

"How are you doing, sir? I thought you were Mickey Rourke."

(And, once you get over the thrill of being close enough to Kripke to smell him, don't forget to say "sir.")

Anonymous said...

Tip to fashionista: I don't know what lingo you're hip with, honey, but only tools say "catsup."

Stacy & Clinton said...

Tip to 1:01: Only tools refer to people as "tools." That is, like--oh my god--totally so 1980s. Sorta like your neon legwarmers. BURN!

Anonymous said...

Regarding changes in philosophical fashion: Leiter has relinked an old posting where he reports a colleague pointing out, inter alia, "This generation is likely to see creativity and provocativeness as more important than being anal about every little detail, and this goes with publishing more and more flamboyantly rather than publishing little and conservatively. Another interesting generational change: the older generation had a myth of the brilliant loner producing insights out of the blue, whereas the younger generation is more communitarian, focusing more about projects that emerge out of group discussions."

Maybe changes in clothing correspond to other changes in the profession: being more flamboyant and social in publishing may go along with a rejection of the old-school homeless look.

Anonymous said...

Jesse Prinz here. A friend alerted me to fashionista's posting, which was good for a chuckle. I always welcome fashion advice, and I think it's healthy to balance the stress of the Eastern with good round of fashion police. Philosophers make good fodder in this arena because we are less beholden to rigid conventions of dress and, I suppose, less inclined to care. Fashion also interesting questions about psychology (why do we pay attention to dress?), sociology (how is group membership signaled?), and philosophy (what is proper semantics for fashion pronouncements, given that they have an air of objectivity, even though the domain is, by definition, relative?). Putting these issues to one side, I have a question that is more germane to this blog: what do you folks think about the fact that people on the market are expected to dress in a way that significantly departs from what we wear in the classroom?

Anonymous said...

Jerry Fodor here. Jesse Prinz's empiricism makes me angry.

Anonymous said...

Re Jesse Prinz's question:

I don't know if I'm in a minority here, but I would find it much more stressful if there *weren't* an expectation that job candidates wear suits (or something close to it). Worrying about what tie to wear or whether my shoes are scuffed is peanuts compared to worrying about what overall *style* would best serve my interests (and what specific items would best exemplify that style).

Sure, it would be nice if we weren't judged at all on how we dress, but that's not going to happen. I fear that being told to dress as we would "in the classroom" would just add so much more anxiety and second-guessing, as we worry what image to project. Suits level the sartorial playing field (especially since nobody seems to earn points for wearing suits over a certain mid-level quality).

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jerry. Sorry if I've irritated you. I suspect we largely agree about how the mind works, yet, curiously, you call your empiricism "rationalism." Can't we all just get along? -Jesse

Anonymous said...

I think anonymous#n makes an excellent point (suits etc. diminish stress), though it may be a bit harder for women, for whom the formula remains more open-ended. One disturbing thing about suits is they mark out candidates as such, and that creates a visual demarcation between those who have jobs they are happy with and those who are looking. One improvement would be to have those conducting interviews follow the same dress code as those being interviewed. That thought give me more pause about my hair color than the alleged fashion faux pas. -Jesse

Alvy Singer said...

Jesse: Awesome Marshall Mcluhan moment!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Alvy. I've long been a big fan of yours. -Jesse

Oran Moked said...

Jesse Prinz's last comment touches on (though doesn't make explicit enough) the really annoying thing about the dress code -- namely, the fact that only interviewees (but not interviewers) are expected to follow it. The clear visual demarcation between job applicants and all the rest highlights the former's position of weakness and inferiority in a really nasty way.

Anonymous said...

The clear visual demarcation between job applicants and all the rest highlights the former's position of weakness and inferiority in a really nasty way.

No, it doesn't. Although it makes our position of "inferiority" sort of clear, it does not do it in a really nasty way. If you had to wear an armband or a sandwich sign so people would know to spit at you, or if you had to perform sexual favors in exchange for employment, that would be really nasty. Being forced to dress in the costume of a professional person who is seeking professional employment is not nasty at all.

Get over it. Seriously. It's as though having to wear a suit (or at least a pair of trousers and a sport coat) is the worst thing that's ever happened to you people. What the fuck?