Alex sends along this series of responses to the Pannapacker article, brimming with examples of the dreamy self-actualization nonsense I describe below. Those who accuse me of setting up straw men, I offer for your consideration:
"Yet I can say without blushing that my experience of life is infinitely richer for having spent the last seven years thinking as hard as I can among some of the smartest "suckers" I have ever met. For me, graduate study was like getting fitted with a second nervous system—I feel that much more acutely alive and responsive to the world. I will try to pass that vividness along to my students as long as this broken education system allows me to. In the end, I may well have to walk away from academia, but, if so, I suspect I'll feel more regret for those students than I will for myself."
Not only have you not even lived until you've received a PhD, students denied exposure to your amazing new grad school-induced vividness are lesser beings for the lack.
"Books make me happy and being able to talk about books for a living (even if that living is currently classifiable as below the poverty line) makes me happy, too...What's wrong with the pleasure of reading, of thinking, of learning new things about the world and how it works?...For now, I'll stick with my choice and accomplish the task of a doctoral degree which, if not always a pleasure, still affords satisfaction and pride in my own determination. I will continue my work because, as Stanley Fish puts it, "[t]he humanities are their own good," and to insist otherwise is to buy into the notion that the only education worthwhile is that which is instrumental."
I love ideas and books--except not always--but even if I don't always actually love them, I'm satisfied and proud of loving the idea of loving ideas and books, and of standing by that love.
"As Pannapacker says, we need to organize, raise awareness, and work against exploitation...And the struggle is not only for wages and conditions, but for thinking, teaching, and writing about our shared humanity. As the striking mill women of Lawrence, Mass., showed us in 1912, "hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses." Bread yes, but roses too."