in october, i came on here and acted all tough about staying with/in philosophy. now that it’s january, i start to mentally prepare myself for another year i didn’t land a tenure track job, another year of contingency, another year wondering where the whisky money’s going to come from next semester. so i’m spending a lot of time reflecting on the pragmatics of staying with/in philosophy, rather than the philosophy of staying with/in philosophy (so to speak).
i’m thinking a lot about all of those folks in the generations of philosophers who came before us, who found a home for themselves in other departments, in other disciplines: in political science, in rhetoric, in women’s studies, in comparative literature, in ethnic studies. i’m thinking about philosophers who left to use their voices in other venues, who left to be writers, or who left to work in law or politics or art.
and i’m thinking about everyone who’s just simply not here anymore.
i have no pretensions that philosophy is the only place one can critique, reflect on, analyse, and question our cultural moment and the structures of thinking, discourses and institutions that define it. but i’m afflicted by a stubborn insistence that philosophy will have us. as it becomes clearer that, like so many of my forebears, philosophy is just not that into me, i find myself wondering what it feels like to leave, what thinking goes into leaving, what happens beyond the contingency – “these folks would actually offer me a job, so i took it.”
is it possible to to make a career in philosophy as a middle finger to the discipline that couldn’t find a place and wouldn’t make a place for our friends and forebears who had to leave? is it wise?