File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9804, message 21

Subject: Re: Philosopy Majors and career tracks
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 15:56:40 PDT

words to a young philosophy student:

if you are a philosophy student looking for a career track in academia, 
be sure you can mime the prevailing departmental rhetoric.

but if you are an idealistic philosopher, creative, a bit of a maverick, 
don't expect to be welcomed with open arms in academia.  find another 
career; your life will be hard.

i, too, held the old fashioned and impractical view that i should get 
the education i wanted, become an intellectual, the "system" be damned.  
but the damn system damn near broke me for good.

i practically sold my soul to academia, being the perfect student, 
kicking butt as an undergrad, only to be rejected from grad departments 
that i applied to because what i proposed to study was too "radical," 
"scarey," and "trendy."  like an idiot, i held the unexamined belief 
that if i were smart enough, articulate, passionate, and dedicated, i 
would go far in academia.

for being such a smartie, i sure was dumb (niave), unaware that in 
academia (just as in the real world) there are major egos, departmental 
politics, vested interests, backstabbings, people who feel threatened by 
your work, hypocracy, discrimination, and just plain really stupid and 
insensitive people in general.

ah, but i must say, i was probably the the smartest homeless person in 
all of santa cruz.  one year i even wrote my grad proposal from my car.  
too bad foucault didn't do diddley squat for me as a queer homeless 
person being rejected everywhere.

yeah, i thumbed my nose at "the system".... and ended up in a hospital 
for suicidal depression.

but now life is great.  i'm a receptionist.  whoohoo!  and a pretty 
damned smart one.

sorry, but i just had to toss this out.


>At our college, most of the philosophy majors are in a pre-law "track" 
>and see their philosophy study as effective training for the kind of
>critical thinking needed in the law and for taking the LSAT.  My own
>(admittedly very old fashioned and impractical) view is that you
>should get the education you want, if you really want it, and think
>about the "career track" as an entirely separate issue.  For a 
>career, get a job.  For an education, choose philosophy and run with
>it (or literature or history, equally "impractical").  Thumb your nose
>at the system, refuse the capitalist imposition (late capitalism is
>dying anyway, believe me) and learn something worth learning.
>Tom Dillingham

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