Sunday, September 23, 2007

Generational Politics in Academe

For the record, I did not make this remark about the "smokers" at the eastern division APA, and what they are like for job candidates:
During the heydey of the post World War II great academic job market, these smokers were quite different. For one thing, people actually smoked. For another thing, the Baby Boomers actually smoked pot at the smoker. Unless you are a Generation X job candidate who has been stuck at a table with a drunk Baby Boomer during one of these things, and he (it's always a he!) is telling you how great it was "back in the day" when everybody had over ten interviews and there was a "dance circle" of pot smokers in the middle of the room. . . unless you've had this experience added to the penury and hopelessness of the average job candidate, you maybe don't even know the meaning of the word "rage." [To give you a basis of comparison, I found such experiences vastly more rage inducing than the time four drunk Ohio farm kids on a public street called me a "long haired faggot" and then used me as a punching bag. This may just be because I could understand most of what the farm kids were saying, unlike with the atrocious A.P.A.-smoker-room acoustics added to the slurred speech of Doctor Peace Bear and his equally drunk and self-satisfied Boomer colleague Professor Hippypants.]

224007814_4def8bd557 I speculate that this is one of the main reasons Generation X academics are often so unrelentingly hostile (when talking with one another) about Baby Boomer academics. Note, I don't endorse this. But any fellow Gen Xer not suffering from the kind of Stockholm Syndrome induced by relentlessly acting like a "promising young man," (i.e. a Boomer's idea of a young person instead of an actual young person) knows what I'm talking about. Baby Boomer academics had a much easier time getting jobs and tenure. Somehow on their watch we not only got Reagan, the two Bushes, and abandonment of cool plans to colonize space, but also a university system where now less than half the positions are tenure or tenure-track. And Gen Xers should be forgiven for concluding that they don't care. You go to a faculty senate meeting and all the talk is about: (1) diversity (any comment by me on how this actually works in most universities would take us too far afield), (2) fighting the administration's efforts to make it easier to sack dead-wood Baby Boomers with tenure, or (3) instituting some awful management school thing like "strategic planning" that only results in academics (usually the junior ones) writing useless reports to justify some Baby Boomer vice provost's six figure salary.
I didn't say this. Any ill consequences for bad mouthing the tenured generation should not be directed at me. I am merely further publicizing these remarks for educational purposes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh dear god this brings back horrible memories of the job market! I am so thrilled to have left academia!