universityoflies

roasting marshmellows in phd hell

Archive for May 2013

Graduate School Despair.

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Do you ever have one of those days where you feel kind of insane?

I have been working my way through a stack of library books all day, looking through the dense bullshit language for a few useful lines I can quote or put in a footnote.  I’ve also been refreshing bullshit webpages I shouldn’t be wasting my time reading,making phone calls, drinking too much coffee, and otherwise employing my mind in useless and prob destructive ways.

I feel so panicky and sick.  My stomach hurts.  I feel kind of sweaty and gross.  All I know is that in order to finish this chapter, I need some info to back up my premise, historical commentary mostly, and though I’ve wasted so much time reading/skimming countless bad smelling library books and looking at JSTOR til my eyeballs hurt, I can’t find whatever it is that I’m looking for.  I know that it’s out there, and that I’ve probably read 87 things that would have done just fine.  I don’t know what is behind my paralysis.  I don’t know why I can’t just get shit done, or why I feel like someone as annoying as woody allen is doing a neverending standup routine in my  head.

There are so many ups and downs (mostly downs, let’s be real here) in this process that it’s so easy to feel alone and overwhelmed, like you jumped off a cruise ship at night on a drunken whim.  and now the boat speeds on, nobody knowing that you’re bobbing up and down in the black water, tipsy and stupid, all alone save your belly flop contest medal and the rolls you stuffed into your pocket at dinner.

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Written by universityoflies

May 24, 2013 at 21:18

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The Things You Read in Graduate School

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In a quest to distract myself from end of semester madness, I am currently reading some wonderful and terrible things.

First, the wonderful:

In Week Four, Zipperstein assigned Umberto Eco’s The Role of the Reader.  It hadn’t done much for Madeleine.  She wasn’t all that interested, as a reader, in the reader.  She was still partial to that increasingly eclipsed entity: the writer.  Madeleine had a feeling that most semiotic theorists had been unpopular as children, often bullied or overlooked, and so had directed their lingering rage onto literature.  They wanted to demote the author.  They wanted a book, that hard-won transcendent thing, to be a text, contingent, indeterminate, and open for suggestions.  They wanted the reader to be the main thing.  Because they were the readers.

-Jeffery Eugenides, The Marriage Plot, p.42

Eugenides’ book (NOT text) takes place in/around the English department at Brown in the 1980s, when all of this bullshit became in vogue.  I am guessing that some of Madeleine’s views are autobiographical, as Eugenides was at Brown himself around the same time.  It’s a hilarious send up on some of the egos and viewpoints that continue to make the life of a grad student…difficult.  The whole thing is intelligent and delightfully fucking self-aware (meta, you might say) and the ending is as satisfying and clever.

Now let’s move on to the terrible:

Furthermore, the ‘age of metaphysics’ that Derrida demarcates becomes all the less propitious to the logocentric thesis in that those areas in which the question of writing was raised–general grammar, the Leibnizian project of the characteris universalis— exerted energies more accommodating to a nascent grammatology than metaphysical phonocentrism.

-Sean Burke, The Death and Return of the Author, I forget the page but you can’t pay me to open that book again.

First of all, spell check didn’t recognize half of those letter groupings to be actual words.  When have you last seen such pretentious garbley obfuscation ?  Earlier today I read it out loud to someone much older, smarter, and well read than me and ze had no idea what the hell Burke was talking about either.  I’m inclined to agree with Madeleine though.  How can the ‘author’ die?  Without the author, you only have blank pages, or maybe trees.  I am so sick and tired of having to take random philosophy and use it as a framework to interpret texts that have nothing to do with said framework.  I’m going to take the McDonald’s dollar menu and use that as a theoretical framework.  It would have about the same level of relevancy.

As I near the mythical day where my thesis is ‘finished’, I keep getting feedback around the bits where I have made (what I believe to be) some kind of new conclusion, my contribution to the ever expanding ‘field’.  And right next to these conclusions are comments telling me that this should really be the starting point of the discussion, and that I should use Spivak, Derrida, Kant, or Fergus McShitland to help me develop a framework upon which to hang this future discussion.

Except I feel like I am DONE.  I have nothing left to say.  And that statement is my fucking conclusion, because I have CONCLUDED.  The majority of the theory books I have read maybe have 2 interesting bits in 200 pages.  And because Burke or whoever did not want their TEXT to be an article but a book, they had to wax the fuck on for an additional 190 pages in order for it to be published.

I do not want to follow their lead.  So I guess I will continue to play by my rules and hope that I escape with those very fucking expensive three letters after my name.

I Hate My PhD Blog Lovin

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I apologize for the lack of posting.  I’m in finals/phd hell at the minute and feel like I have zero creativity right now.

So instead of writing blog posts, I am wasting time googling “I hate phd”.  And from my blog stats page, it looks like I’m in good company.

In the meantime, dear readers, check this out:

http://hatemyphd.blogspot.com/

Ees good!

Written by universityoflies

May 8, 2013 at 16:40

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Open Letter to Amy Pistone, Ph.D. Student in Classical Studies at the University of Michigan: The Articles Will Stop When The Exploitation Stops

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There’s been some firey debate on the interwebz these past few days.. Rebecca Shuman pwns Amy Pistone in a very well written and entertaining article. Recommended reading!

PAN KISSES KAFKA

[updated 4. May 2013 6:00 pm. Edited for length and excessive vitriol.]

Dear Amy,

First of all, I am very sorry if the following missive hurts your feelings. Your ad hominem attack under the official and ordained masthead of the University of Michigan certainly hurt mine, and that was not at all fun, so I know how it feels. That said—girl, you trolled me. So now this is happening.

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I see you one Contemplatively By a Book and raise you a Glasses!

Granted, my target is not you personally, but the institutional ideology that empowered and emboldened you to make the command—one I am aware that many of your fellow graduates students are taking as gospel—that I, along with my partners in crimes against the Humanities, William Pannapacker, Sarah Kendzior, et. al., should just shut up already.

It’s not sufficient that you get off the…

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Written by universityoflies

May 7, 2013 at 00:32

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