i never lost a job, i believe, except because i wouldn't join a party, or i said something a feminist might construe as objectifying or something. they leave you speculating at the time, but sometimes you learn what happened. i believe i lost the job i really wanted at vanderbilt, because of my crazed, palpable anti-semitism. idit dobbs-weinstein and julie klein - real pc killers - did not give me a chance to say meet my great grandfather. on my mother's side. they missed my daughter's bat mitzvah. somewhere in the process i picked up the outlines. i hope i managed to convey that i was jewish.
then it was sort of: we learn to hate ourselves in our oppression; sometimes jews are the biggest anti-semites! not talking about you, of course...but they did hear one of the counter-examples i used in my job talk, and were retraumatized from the holocaust. that's 1992, y'all. much worse now. the next month, the same paper appeared in the journal of philosophy, merely despised until zagzebski found it. i was also doing some politically suspect columns for the nashville banner, like the one where i argued in favor of school vouchers. that sort of thing will garner you some pointed silence, though no arguments.
i'll throw a paragraph at mica, a place that was beloved to me before i ever got there, having lived around the corner and fantasized the whole time about teaching philosophy to art students. they don't have tenure. they brought me in with the understanding that i was permanent and there were no issues, they were lucky to get me, they said. i gave up my tenure track job teaching journalism and media studies and advising the school paper at penn state harrisburg. this is what i'd always wanted.
i was on campus a couple of days after 9.11, and i had already recorded a spot for all things considered. they were looking for someone who would express any sort of anger, could not find one among their staff or usual contributors, i gather. i had been talking to my (now-deceased) brother jim, who was an unbelievable cynic, raconteur, and artist of the hyperbole. 'i want to fly over the middle east and see nothing but piles of smoking rubble.' i started there. you know, i too want vengeance. in fact this distinction between justice and vengeance is complete jive, just a way of pretending you don't want revenge, or collectivizing responsibility, effectively offloading it from everyone entirely. i had three minutes, years of argument behind it. then i said: but even if it is legitimate to take vengeance, you are morally obliged to take your vengeance only precisely on the perpetrators. no burning rubble, my brother, without osama & co inside it. only them.
next day, robert merrill (a senior colleague), confronted me in the hall and said "that was disgusting!" the next words out his mouth were 'osama is a freedom fighter!' i felt a marked cooling toward me and rallying around him after that.
then for whatever political reason, they put my job to a national search. i did 'six names of beauty' as the talk, just or soon-to-published by routledge. anyway, it defines beauty' as 'the object of longing.' then i put up my childhood crush emma peel. then i went on to buntings and roses and the universe as a whole. a lit prof, soheila ghaussy, hopped up and started saying my whole thing was just (paraphrasing) coming from the dick, and weren't millennia of oppression enough? they hired someone else, who did not work out at all.
what i have found over and over again is that teaching, research, and service are irrelevant in an academic career (research, for sure). the only real criterion of advancement is conformity. that's why you have all these mediocrities at the very upper reaches: mere careerists. that's why the senior level of the profession now is lilliputian compared to the last cohort. i think the last actually interesting or sincere president of the apa was stanley cavell. if stanley was starting out now, he'd be drummed out of the profession for even mentioning greer garson, or because of that weird beret.
to clarify, i am definitely not a progressive. but i am definitely not a reactionary. i think the whole thing makes no sense, which is why it's enforced with insane social sanctions. i define my position as anti-hierarchical: i am opposed to both state and economic hierarchies and think they go together. this position is incomprehensible to academics because it is internally consistent.
one conclusion i'd draw is that anything besides the noodly socialism that is unanimous in academia is incomprehensible to the people there. another is that in the long run it is impossible to be both a professor and any kind of honest opinion journalist.
[this is drawn out of my entry out.]