post-diss blues, existential questions, the job search, and yearning for difference

I say “post” not because I’m done, but because my draft is submitted. It feels good, I guess, but I’m waiting to find out what else I need to do (it’s only been two weeks since I delivered it). But in the meantime: I’m teaching two classes that start next week. One is a repeat, a junior level ethics class in the Community, Environment, and Planning program that is fantastic. The second is at UW-Tacoma and is Sustainable Urban Development Policies. As a colleague recently commented, it is pretty “square” for me, but I’m looking forward to teaching new content on a new campus nonetheless.

There is, of course, plenty of other writing work to do by the end of January. I need to expand my paper from the Deleuze conference in Athens into an actual paper for publication (I wrote mostly about how Deleuze and Guattari’s political philosophy can address the same questions that Neil Brenner is trying to address with Planetary Urbanization, despite his refrain that “neo-Deleuzian” approaches can’t address political economic issues reshaping space). I also need to finish a book review for JPER that I was asked to write.

But what about what’s next? I have a decent spreadsheet created with quite a few job listings that have application dates coming up in the next two weeks: two postdocs (University of Michigan and CUNY Grad Center) and one tenure track position that straddles Geography and Ethics at Penn State. All would be fantastic positions but I’m stuck in that winter/post-diss draft languor. All I want to do is soak in things that are completely different: I read Teju Cole’s Every Day is for the Thief last week, and am currently rereading “The Beggar,” the first of three short stories by Naguib Mahfouz that I have in one collection. I also know where two copies of Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Leaving Tangier are sitting at my local bookstore, but I’m refraining from buying one until I can actually read it. Oh, and I’m also about halfway through Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s Cannibal Metaphysics. I’ve also been laying on the couch watching Twin Peaks in sweatpants and have recently switched my French learning software to functioning between French and Spanish, as if escaping English is what I’m really after.

But that’s not the end of it. I have an email from a former student sitting in my inbox that is encouraging me to write creatively, which is something that would be different for me (here’s one short attempt from last year). But I suffer from only being able to write creatively about actual experiences, so that it is mostly reportage. That’s probably not a new problem.

“One doesn’t haven’t to write poetry if one lives poetically,” says Omar (I’m paraphrasing, I think), the disintegrating protagonist in Mahfouz’s story.

And I’m not without job prospects for next year here at UW. I submitted two course proposals to the CHID program where I often teach — one on cities, one on affect — and was invited to mold one of them into a junior colloquium, which is essentially a quarter-long theory class, and is a honor, at least in my eyes. I’m not sure what that means for the second course, but the program has been very generous to me, so I expect to teach the other course as a special topics class. The three-week New York City study away program that I co-directed earlier this year was also approved again…but in my search for difference I am considering trying to reshape it from focusing on urban change to immigrant experiences; to envelop myself in something alien.

Somewhere Henry Miller writes about leaving for Mongolia and never coming back. Everyone is like, “Where’s Henry?” and the only answer anyone has is something to the effect of “he went off to Mongolia and we haven’t heard from him since!” That’s not what I’m after, at least it’s not what I think I’m after, but it’s an impulse to which I can relate. In other words, I am sympathetic to the desire for extensive flight, but I’d really rather just fold myself into the music that is coming out of these speakers — maybe it’s Flying Lotus? I don’t know.

So, them’s my desiring machines, in their current state…if you’re near Seattle and want to get a drink and tell me about yours, let me know.



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2 Responses to post-diss blues, existential questions, the job search, and yearning for difference

  1. In case you want to add another postdoc application to your file, I encourage you to consider this fellowship at Penn State:

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