A PhD in whining Thursday, August 4, 2011 ~ Adam Kotsko This may be the most pathetic article I’ve ever read. Share this:FacebookTwitterRedditTumblrPinterestEmail Related Published by Adam Kotsko View all posts by Adam Kotsko
21 thoughts on “A PhD in whining”
He has forgotten the most important reason: it’s a good thing he didn’t stay in English, because he’s not ultimately interested in making a difference to students in that field. People who don’t love education don’t belong in it. They move on. People who do love education, and have a calling to it, will find ways to do it anywhere. Good on him for finding a career in which he could do the manly, argumentative intellectual swashbuckling that attracts him, instead of just sitting on the academic ladder somewhere taking up a tenure spot. But fie on him for casting aspersions at everyone else in the field for doing things that don’t attract him, for reasons that aren’t his.
A hilarious sidenote: you can read the article for free, but the comments are behind the Chronicle‘s paywall.
As I think about it, though, this might be the one case where I’d be willing to pay a nominal fee to see 50 people pile up on a person who sought out a public forum to whine about the professional choices he made and to go on and on about how he can’t relate to women.
The comments are accessible to me (no paywall?), and I think you might be disappointed to pay to read them—the reaction was much more mixed than I was expecting.
Oh wow. As soon as he got to the bit about how he couldn’t *possibly* have a woman as a rolemodel I realised he was probably That Guy – the guy who speaks over you and other students cos he already knows better, hands in mediocre assignments and thinks they’re amazing, then tries to go over your head to the department chair when you give him the marks he deserves. I mean, he’s a Man of Quality who only relates to the Ivies and Europeans.
I don’t know if male lecturers get this so much but there’s definitely a certain kind of male student who tries to bully female lecturers cos he thinks he’s much, much better than them.
Sounds like you might be one of those angry feminists!
Ha. Angry.., but not engaged in good manly intellectual combat..
He said it himself: he is just looking for an older version of himself to tell him that he is exactly what academia needs just the way he is, no intellectual growth or hard work required. And no need to deal with his psychological issues that clearly involve being afraid that women will reject him. Paging the Last Psychiatrist…
Great idea — I just sent a tweet to TLP!
And I retweeted it!
I guess the comments are visible if you just scroll down — but it gives you the paywall message if you click on the comments link at the top of the article.
It’s kind of shame, because there is a non-douchey version of this essay that could be written as well. After all, it doesn’t seem completely unheard of for somebody mid-doctoral studies to realize that s/he doesn’t particularly like the people w/ whom they’re studying, or even that they don’t particularly like what they’re studying. Arguably, I could write that article. The problems arise, of course, when you start blaming your discipline and those who people it for your dislike–certainly so when you’re a white dude who likes other white dude stuff. That kind of thing seems more appropriate as a confession of a deficiency than something he should use as a rationale (certainly not one done in hindsight!). We’re all walking cliches to some extent: but, doing so unknowingly, or even knowingly but without regard for the fact that they’re a cliche, well, they inhabit a new circle of the all-around clueless.
The Last Psychiatrist has responded to my tweet, thanking me and characterizing the article as “great” (presumably for purposes of blogging on).
TLP’s take on the article.
… But someone beat me to it.
Says a lot that his prime example of honest intellectual exchange is getting browbeaten by Stirling in Strange Horizons. Male role models indeed. I’ve read a story of Dexter’s in the otherwise quite interesting anthology The Urban Bizarre – a morality play about military corporations. One of the sympathetic characters is a black female police lieutenant with books by Marx and Foucault on her shelf. She dies, and her ruthless female killer succeeds in preventing the onset of peace.
Anyway, it’s pretty tightly plotted, but I can concur with his judgement that he can’t ever hope to be much of a prose stylist. Eventually, we’ll likely see an essay in Strange Horizons on why stopping writing to go make money and volunteer at his church because he didn’t quite fit in with the novelist’s club – for personal, not ability reasons – is probably not such a bad thing after all.
Sorry, I meant Texter of course. I totally retract my accidental insinuation that he’s some sort of secret serial killer.
It’s kind of odd that the University of Minnesota’s English department does not have Texter listed as having attained his PhD in the list of graduate alumni. Make of it what you will.
In the comments, he says he requested they not list him, out of “protest.”
I have a slightly more positive take on the piece, at least concerning the question of gendered role models:
The out of protest bit was especially odd-just don’t complete the program.
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