Monday, May 14, 2012

Pity Party

John Lennon put it well 

 Maybe I should have called this "Rules of the Game". That's what I'm reading at the moment, in between J.Halberstam's latest "the Queer Art Of Failure", salvaged novels from the book grocer and WAY TOO MANY ESSAYS.

 I'm reading a translation of the first 2 volumes of Michel Leiris' memoirs. It's a conundrum/a queer art of failure in itself, trying to translate what is untranslatable - a collection of jeu du mots in French/punning plays ploys drifting memoirs in the original literary practice of the Derive, making Baudeliare look like Banjo Patterson by comparison. 

 I plug away at 'scratches'.... slowly..... and think of the wider bits, of Bourdieu's "Regle Du Jeu" and my own pathetic attempts at class mobility, at trying to find one little corner of the middle class where maybe the possibility of the occasional interesting conversation outways the inevitable pathetic neurotic boring misanthropic games that middle class people play. 

I don't feel middle class. the middle class feels alien - like, say Paris. Something I want to be a part of, that I like the idea of, that I feel I know about, that I even speak the language of - but it is imperfect, accented, limited. bits of myself are silenced by my lack of language - I'm always skimming the surface, scudding across aporias, and feeling so much like an outsider, an alien, a foreigner.......

 And yet I am not 'working class'. 
Technically, yes. No trust fund, no capital, very few connections, but.....compared with people I grew up with, my life was incredibly privileged. Educated parents! a home full of books, and silence to read them in! Broadsheet newspapers and international magazines. So much cultural capital, and look where it has gotten me? 

 For the past 6 months I have played the game of being a proper aspirational post-doc/early career researcher. I have worked 2 sessional teaching positions on 12 week contracts (at 2 separate campuses). Just like 65% of academic employees (according to my union). 

This has  mainly consisted of tutoring with some guest lectures, and a LOT of marking. Apparently this teaching load is slightly higher than a full time lecturer. 

 In addition, like any conscientious ECR, I have submitted research articles for review in acadeemic journals. One open source, the other not so. I sweated blood over each, and was rejected with less feedback than the illiterate hungover pieces of garbage submitted by my undergrads. All with that nasty passive aggressive grimace of middle class 'niceness'. 

Blind Freddy knows that academic publishing is a JOKE. A nasty nasty profiteering game where overworked underpaid fools do unpaid work for either the massive profits of a conglomerate such as "Elseiver" or for the ego-boost, cultural capital/career aspirations of other unpaid fools who are equally as desperate for.... for what? 

Just like student politics, academic makes me wonder, 'Why so much effort when the stakes are so low?' 

 And in 6 weeks time there will be nothing. I will be unemployed, for 1 month or maybe 6 o until whatever random 12 week contract appears from the sky, and hopping I get selected for Jury duty so the daily allowance may cover some of my living expenses. 

It's not that bad, I have a roof over my head, a home, a wife, food, love, and yet.... I'm middle aged, financially dependent on my partner, about to become unemployed, unable to support myself,and not part of any coterie of sycophants. My ego thinks this is hell. Shut up ego. Life is cute and comfortable otherwise. 

 I'm stupidly, masochistically scrabbling at the bottom edge of academia, browning my nose in every arsehole I can find, and not even successfully. I thought I would want to teach, to write, to create and share knowledge, but absence of connections or luck or WHATEVER renders this impossible. 

 And yet - I wonder what the hell else I can do? My back won't let me return to life modelling or do attendant care. Office work may drive me to suicide and I can't drive, so train driving is out, and.... and.... I still feel like Sylvia Plath at the bottom of the plum tree, unsure what branch to climb. Only now the fruit has ripened and is starting to spot, and I'm still stuck, unsure what the hell I'm meant to do when I grow up. 

 I'll shut up. 
Go and meditate. 
Keep breathing.