Friday, November 25, 2011

Reposting: A Note to Spouses

A few people have requested that I re-post this....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Note to Spouses

Dear Spouse of an Unemployed Philosopher,

As you are no doubt well-aware, we're now creeping into the all-important ten-day period during which hiring departments will be contacting job applicants in order to schedule APA interviews. The whole process is, indeed, every bit as awful as your spouse says it is. In fact it's probably much worse that your spouse realizes. In any case, expect your spouse to begin behaving strangely.

Over the next several days, your spouse will begin incessantly checking his or her voice-mail and email for any signs of hope. Information about which schools have contacted interviewees, some of questionable reliability, will be posted on various blogs and wikis. Rumors about canceled searches, insider candidates, and "courtesy interviews" will abound. Given the horrendous job market, even under the best circumstances, things will look excessively bleak. And they are.

Should your spouse get no invitations to interview, do whatever you can to help soften the blow. You spouse worked extremely hard on his or her PhD. Spending another year adjuncting for slave-wages, or worse, is a terrifying prospect for your spouse. And, indeed, that your spouse has not gotten any interviews does not entail that your spouse is not a highly qualified, well-trained, and promising academic. Most job ads yield hundreds of applications, and departments interview only twelve or so at the APA. The search process at many institutions is nearly blind to all the things that matter in selecting a new faculty member.

Those who get interviews will have but a few hours to feel affirmed and accomplished. Enjoy this all too brief period of satisfaction. Celebrate. The joy will soon give way to a morass of anxiety and self-doubt as your spouse begins to prepare for the interview. Of course, it will quickly dawn on your spouse that the only way to prepare is to practice running a gauntlet of the cruel, the ignorant, the hostile, the maniacal, the stupid, and the clueless. Chances are the some such assemblage will be deciding your spouse's fate. This only compounds the anxiety and self-doubt.

Perhaps your spouse will be among the three or four who survive the APA interview. If so, she or he will be invited to an on campus interview. In some ways, the anxieties of the job-seeking process lift at this point. But they're quickly replaced by a different set of anxieties: what to wear, what paper to give, how to deal with off-the-rails questions at the Q&A, how to interact with the faculty member who behaved like a jerk at the APA interview, and so on. Of course, if your spouse has reached this stage, he or she has already accomplished a great deal. But that makes the prospect of not getting the job all the more depressing. And so it goes.

In short, the next month will be unbelievably trying for your spouse. Resign yourself now to the fact that the entire holiday season will be a drag. Devise ways to cope with the fact that your spouse will be psychologically compromised for several weeks. And, if you can, cut him or her some slack.



Anonymous said...

Thanks (from my spouse)

Anonymous said...

My spouse says fuck you. Christmas is ruined. Again.

Anonymous said...

This is close to smoking, but ok.

Anonymous said...

never been so broke that i couldn't leave town

Anonymous said...

This is my spouse's second xmas. Last one he had to listen to me on the cell crying about having driven into a snowbank and being unable to find the airport to catch my flight for an interview at the disastrous APA last year (I missed the flight). Thankfully, he's not an academic and is convinced I will get a job this year. I think I'll let him keep his little bubble of hope alive while his spouse disappears by sitting in front of the computer all day refreshing the wiki. What fucking hell.

Anonymous said...

ps: more resources for people living with or married to philosophers.

Anonymous said...

I'll just mention that some of your spouses (and partners) also have a birthday in the middle of the APA. If so, do not approach your spouse unless it is absolutely necessary during the next two months.

Anonymous said...

philosophy's a waste of money.

learn a trade instead, or buy a small business.

nietzsche aint gonna pay the bills.

Gabriele Contessa said...

anonymous 6:08am,

you should be ashamed to be married to a two year old.

Anonymous said...

None of you are "philosophers" you or your spouses are looking for employment as "professors of philosophy".

Your chosen title assumes a level of imagination you or your spouses have no right to claim; the second, more appropriate title is merely a job description. "Chemist" is a job description: the title denotes nothing more than technical proficiency, but philosophy is closer to literature than chemistry. It's less about ideas than values. A "philosopher" is someone judged by others to have a superior intelligence and imagination. You judge yourselves superior. It's like listening to kvetching minor league baseball players with the self-importance of theology students.

"What do you value?"

Scholasticism is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:59PM: Knowledge doesn't grow on trees either.

Contessa: are you ashamed of your own childish behavior in leaving such an unprovoked nasty comment to someone simply reporting on the reality of being on the job market?

Anon 1:21AM:

First, are you making a descriptive or prescriptive claim about the use of the expression in question? If the former, please offer some evidence, if the latter, please let me know who died and made you the authority on language use.

Second, I truly doubt that many call themselves a philosopher as an act of praise. I would say it is easier to call yourself that than other things like "person who has a PhD in Philosophy and is now seeking a tenure track job."

Third, to counter your own possibly descriptive claim about the expression "philosopher," one might think that to be a philosopher is to simply engage in trying to produce knowledge within the discipline of philosophy. You seem to have time on your hands, let me know how that study turns out.

Fourth, as to your seeming argument that philosophy is somehow more about values than ideas and therefore the expression "philosopher" ought to be treated as an honorific, please provide the premises for this gaping enthymeme.

Fifth, if you do think that your first premise is true, I suspect you are not familiar with philosophy and have a serious disorder that you should go see a shrink about.


Jamie said...

YFNA, you misunderstood Gabriele Contessa. (I thought of the same joke, Gabriele -- but I think the spouse must be one year old still.)

Oh, and don't feed the troll.

Anonymous said...

Can we actually perhaps address, in some fashion, light-heartedly or what have you, the issue the post is supposed to be about?

How about some reasons not to marry a philosopher?

I'll start:

(1) You may find yourself writing wedding vows whose sub-sub clauses have sub clauses.

Seriously, I once dated a philosopher and the question of whether we should get married arose several times, and we ended up fighting about whether certain counter-factual scenarios were appropriate for deciding the question (I'm a philosopher, so maybe this is more a consideration against two philosophers hooking up).

Now that I am married to a non-philosopher, conversations are much easier.

Him: What'cha doin'?
Me: Oh staring off into space.
Him: Can you see the space station?

Me: Hon, you seem to be a bit in your own head lately.
Him: Well, Jesus, I sure hope so!

Alright, I hope this thread can be a bit more civilized, since I truly am interested in the issues this post raises.

Anonymous said...

Yeah DUH. I get it now. LOL. Very clever. Thanks for the smile. Sorry about the post.


Gabriele Contessa said...

Thanks for publicly and non-anonymously defending my childish sense of humor, Jamie--it's very much appreciated. And I hope everyone other than YFNA realizes that, as silly as my joke was, it was meant to be neither nasty nor disrespectful towards job-seekers.

In fact, good luck to all of you!

Gabriele Contessa said...

Oh, and, as Jamie correctly points out, I should have said 'as silly and mathematically incorrect as'. What would my Grade 1 teacher say if she read that? :-)

Anonymous said...

Philosophers: make up for being an annoying at least by being a great lover. Be an especially great lover during the day and/or night before you leave for the APA. Leave your partner fulfilled and loved up. It might also release some of your own job market tension!

Anonymous said...

"mysticism is nonsense, total and complete nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship." Saul Lieberman (Dreben's source.)
Philosophical thought is second order curiosity. Philosophy as first order curiosity is garbage.

"Philosophers" imagine themselves intellectual engineers, as others are called Financial Engineers, the professional title of the "inventors" of credit default swaps (buildings that fell down). The term is an analogy. Philosophical engineering is like "economic science" without the risk of failure. Unlike economists you have no data to ignore.

There's no conflict between careerism and the teaching of philosophy, but careerism and philosophical enquiry are in conflict. Logic is technical but logic is formalism and formalism is not second order thought. Second order thought concerning formalism is the history of formalism.

"A painter who calls himself an artist is like a priest calling himself a saint" "Philosopher" The term rankles.

Leiter would accuse me of condescending "from below". His is the arrogance of an economist.
Too late.

Anonymous said...

This last one must be crazy Seth Edenbaum, the troll to end all trolls on philosophy blogs.

Anonymous said...

Typically, you have fewer trolls on your blog.

Who's a philosopher? Well, who's a mathematician?

Anonymous said...

Mathematics is a formalism: it's a tool.
Philosophy concerns the proper use of tools.
The explanation is above.

Anonymous said...

But look on the bright side: if you do get hired you can be one of those 'Spiros' earlier identified, taking your perspective on things to be sure, as "the cruel, the ignorant, the hostile, the maniacal, the stupid, and the clueless" and when you join this group you too can decide the fates of others in some one of these wonderfully characterized fashions when you yourself are on the committee. Amazing how that balances out doesn't it? Posted by someone who hasn't served on such a committee in years.

Anonymous said...

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