Philosopher John Corvino (Wayne State) kindly invited me to share this funny item:
“How Do You Solve A Problem Like My Vita?”
(To the tune of “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria” from The Sound of Music. Written by John Corvino and Thomas Williams during their job-market days, with apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein.)
How do you solve a problem like my vita? How do you find a job that's tenure-track? What should I call myself here on my vita? A metaphysician, an ethicist, a quack? Many an area I've claimed to cover. Making up research goals can be a chore. But if they only knew, the "Papers Under Review," have been rejected sixteen times before . . . Oh, how do you solve a problem like my vita? How do you keep from feeling like a whore?
[Quickly:] At the smoker I feel sick, sipping free beer much too quick, And this polyester suit is getting warm. Unpredictable professors, awkward talkers, tacky dressers: It's the pure apotheosis of bad form. Did my interview go well? From their questions I can't tell. But the chair was looking at me very odd. When he started turning red, I should not have plowed ahead. I'm a moron. I'm a genius. I'm a fraud.
.... How do you solve a problem like my vita? How do I stand out from the current crop? How do I look as a potential colleague? An arrogant jerk, a scatterbrained dork, a flop? What if they ask me how I'd teach aesthetics? How can I fake an interest in Descartes? The salary is poor, the teaching load's 4-4, But at the APA you play the part. Oh, how do you solve a problem like my vita? How do you make a charlatan look smart?
Self-declared "pluralist" departments are not pluralist in any sense worth valuing. They are typically not open-minded diverse places where a vast variety of philosophical issues are worked on. They are more commonly enclave departments that impose on their students an especially narrow conception of what's going on in Philosophy, while also enlisting their unwitting students as pawns in a futile disciplinary crusade to invert existing norms and standards so that, conveniently, the things they do come out as the only kind of philosophy that really matters. Do not allow self-declared pluralists to use you and your professional prospects as chips in their play for disciplinary hegemony. Do philosophy instead. And the best places to do philosophy (of any kind) are the places that do not wrap themselves up in the ridiculous garb of "pluralism."
A journal recently sent me an automated request to referee a manuscript, which, unfortunately, I could not do within the parameters offered. From the salutation, I learned how the editors keep track of me:
1. Drink booze (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Eat barbecued animal products loses to Drink booze by 134–38
3. Read philosophy loses to Drink booze by 128–66, loses to Eat barbecued animal products by 92–88
4. Eat barbecued non-animal products loses to Drink booze by 143–33, loses to Read philosophy by 99–67
5. Read blogs loses to Drink booze by 142–36, loses to Eat barbecued non-animal products by 90–55
6. Write philosophy loses to Drink booze by 143–42, loses to Read blogs by 75–73
7. Drink non-booze loses to Drink booze by 147–32, loses to Write philosophy by 90–69
8. Read poetry loses to Drink booze by 147–26, loses to Drink non-booze by 86–49
9. Burn the flag loses to Drink booze by 145–26, loses to Read poetry by 69–54
10. Renew membership in the Communist Party loses to Drink booze by 142–22, loses to Burn the flag by 58–51
I especially like that dead last in philosophers' activities for July 4th is renewing membership in the Republican Party, which loses (57-30) to eating barbecued human products (presumably Republican ones).
...I want to confirm that I have withdrawn from consideration for the vacant position in Rome.
UPDATE: Michael Otsuka (UCL) writes: "Since the last pope had a twitter account, I think the next pope will be a blogger. And you could have declared that everything you post is ex cathedra, in order to shut up Vatican censors."
At least with Springer! Philosopher David Hilbert (Illinois/Chicago) writes:
The email below seems to imply that Springer thinks I wrote a book, the original edition of which was published over 60 years before I was born. Although I'm flattered that they think I have made fundamental contributions to mathematics, I do have some doubts about their ability to successfully do the rights management that seems to be their major business these days. I wonder if they always just email some random person with the same name to obtain rights or if this is a special case.
We are writing today regarding your book The Theory of Algebraic Number Fields (ISBN: 978-3-540-62779-1), and to let you know about our plans for an electronic archive, the Springer Book Archives.
At this point you may be wondering what the Springer Book Archives are all about. The project is an effort at Springer to breathe new life into older books - specifically those published between 1842 and 2005 - by making them available in electronic formats. The archiving project includes about 40 renowned imprints. Many of these titles may even be out-of-print. With this initiative we will enable researchers all over the world to access a wealth of information via their libraries. The individual books will not only be made available digitally, but also in print. The Springer Book Archives affirms Springer's commitment to preserve valuable scholarly content, and your book plays an important role in this effort.
Your author benefits at a glance:
Your book will be digitized and become an eBook, published on SpringerLink, our online platform, and for e-reading devices such as the Kindle or iPad.
Your book can never go 'out-of-print' and will be preserved for future generations of scientists.
You will be provided with free access to the electronic version of your book once it is included in the archive.
You will receive royalties, or can choose to waive them in support of charitable organizations such as INASP or Research4Life, that help provide the developing world with access to scientific research.
Please go to the following website and select your preferred royalty option*: [omitted]
Peter Hendriks President STM Global Publishing & Marketing
UPDATE: Tad Brennan (Cornell) observes that, "It's a shame that the famous Aristotelian scholar, Hippocrates G. Apostle, died back in 1990. Springer could have given him royalties for the whole Corpus Hippocraticum, and the New Testament as well!"
UPDATE: Philosopher Kent Bach (San Francisco State) writes: "Perhaps your readers would like to know, or be reminded, that in 2001 excerpts from Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus were set to music in a BBC-commissioned cantata by Anthony Powers, entitled 'A Picture of the World'."
UPDATE: Philosopher Lars Bergström (Stockholm) tells me that the author of this parody was actually the philosopher Herman Tennesen; Professor Bergström writes:
It was given to me long ago by the author, Herman Tennesen (or possibly by a close friend of his, Harald Ofstad, who was my supervisor, and predecessor as professor of practical philosophy, at the University of Stockholm). As far as I remember, Tennesen's name was not mentioned in the manuscript; I seem to remember that the author was presented as "Murdock Pencil, professor of Social Darwinism at the Old School for Social Research", as it says in the Washington Post article. I knew Tennesen well, and I am quite sure he really was the author. The article is also very typical of his kind of wit. I did not know that it was actually published in the Journal of Communications, as the WP says, but that may be so. The only difference that I can pin down between my copy and the WP-version is in the list of references, where the second item in the WP-version is "Bem. B." In my version, absolutely all authors had the initial "R". But this is probably just a misprint.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)