roasting marshmellows in phd hell

um…I’m going to need those TPS reports on saturday…yeah…

with 5 comments

Let’s chat about academic productivity, which is the most misleading euphemism since ‘lady flower’ or ‘painting the seagull’.  (don’t google that, by the way.)

that manuscript? yeah.. you’re going to need to write another one.

Academic Productivity= publishing.  You’ve all heard that sad old adage, ‘publish or perish’?  It should more accurately be ‘publish shitloads and perish anyway,’ but that would require a longer bumper.

Yes, you need to publish to obtain tenure.  And now the almost requirement that you have at least one book published BEFORE getting some manic pixie dream job ensures something else…

Everyone and their donkey has published something.  And maybe as a result of the sheer amount of ‘productivity’ out there, much of it is unreadable shite.

It’s how you find yourself ruining a perfectly gorgeous sunny day trying to focus on something like this, per esempio:

“If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to ‘normalize’ formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.”

This transforms me into Yosemite Sam, who has just taken a swig of hot sauce instead of water.  if he even does that.  now I’m running around in circles making  politically incorrect ‘native american’ noises.

(not me, yosemite sam.)

What does it MEAN?  Why all the obfuscation?  Does using a lot of big words strung together make someone’s thoughts more worthy of being heard, or make them better full stop?  Why is it ‘bad’ in academia to communicate clearly and simply?  And no matter how many people profess that they hate pompous verbosity, the cultural norms and message are still the same.  If you are easy to understand, people will and do look down on you.

I happen to prefer lucid prose, ok?

In what other profession/realm is this the case?  Where else are people rewarded for such opaque communication?

My idea is that all of this crazy-talk is a result of STEM/sciences penis envy- that academics in the humanities feel that in order to earn funding, justify their existence to the university, and feed their egos, they need to demonstrate that they, too, have huge peens.  Through language!

Or is it something else?  Who the hell knows.

I just don’t think stuff like the above quotation (Homi Bhaba, btw) is worth the death of a tree.  Or even the occupation of an infinite thing like cyber space.

I’ve been reluctant to classify myself as either a type 1 or type 2 leaver (although I’m not actually leaving, go figure) .. I think the distinctions are both interesting and helpful, and may describe a lot of people, but I don’t feel firmly in one camp or the other.  However, I do feel passionately that life is too fucking short to waste reading drivel that probably doesn’t mean anything or could have been said simply and concisely but then the author wouldn’t be an author, would they?

just give the man some damn cake already.

Does this make me type 1?

If there was less pressure on academics to publish, maybe the material out there would be a little more fucking readable/interesting/other subjective category predetermined by me.

Iam not this narcissistic in real life, btw.  You’ll have to take my word for it.  O the irony!

5 Responses

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  1. type 3 maybe?? I think there needs to be room for profound ambivalence somewhere there… I was/am always half in and half out myself – never quite able to decide if I love/d it or hate/d it and what I want to do instead…

  2. “profound ambivalence..” I love this. type 3 sounds good.

    welcome to the club.

    we must come up with a secret handshake.


    June 3, 2012 at 10:39

  3. Hear hear.

    I also like your academic word of the day.

    Just started my own academic blog. Mostly a bunch of whining though.


    June 5, 2012 at 08:08

  4. ok, 1. i can’t fucking BELIEVE that was homi bhaba! i just had the emperor’s-new-clothes moment to end all emperor’s-new-clothes moments. wow. 2. have you read the bell hooks essay “keeping close to home”? if not, you should check it out; she says similar things about academic language. it’s also just a really nice essay. i used to assign it when i taught composition. i can email you a PDF if you’re interested.


    August 10, 2012 at 14:39

    • Thanks for the suggestion! I think I read it a long time ago but will have another look 🙂


      August 10, 2012 at 20:07

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