I’m off to Baltimore early tomorrow morning for the annual American Philosophical Association conference. Hopefully this trip will bring good things; and if not those, at least a nice crab dinner (post-industrial capitalism now makes sure that crab is available year round in such places… Such nice and equitable exchanges for autonomy and the health of the planet). Really I can think of few things more horrible than the APA and the MLA every year: The haunted look of desperation in the eyes of the job candidates, knowing that they are likely to be consigned to more adjunct work or a one year position. The attempts by awkward academics to be friendly and outgoing or to “network” (Kassabian told me that a friend of hers who is a research psychologist specializing in autism and Aspergers found the highest rate of Aspergers of any population she’d studied among academics. I believe it.). The sheer volume of these conferences allowing little genuine dialogue to take place… All of this makes me shiver. I came across this blog chronicling the trials of a group of philosophy graduate students navigating the market. In a market where Philosophy candidates often have a 250:1 shot of getting a position and where many Lit candidates have a 400:1 shot, the looks of desperation are well understood. I count myself lucky to have a terrific job, even if my heavy course load cuts significantly into my ability to do research. At least you get to see old friends.