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Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Lakes of coffee"

Reading this, I came across a biting line from this, whose context I looked up and found this:
Everyone else felt, or at least declared, that graduate school was really no place for them, that the life was unreal, the projects inane, the themes and theses worthless, the professors disagreeable, the social conventions artificial, the competitions silly. Nonetheless, most of them stayed hermetically sealed in the graduate life, wrote the papers, kowtowed to the professors, plodded through the texts, consumed lakes of coffee a cup at a time, griped, whined, exulted over triumphs so minor they would have been unnoticeable in any other context, competed with one another endlessly, and, by the time they had been at it a few months, would scarcely have known what to do in any other world. To go back into what they liked to refer to as 'real life' they would have had to be reconditioned slowly, like divers coming up from the deep.
This is a very accurate account of the situation.

6 comments:

Ari N. Schulman said...

Ari likes him too.

The former financier known as HUM III said...

My cohort has the reverse problem of sort. Having gone all rumspringa in NYC finance roles, there is this odd inability of people to adapt to normal graduate school habits. People call bs on so much of the normal cadence of academic life, despite the requirement / claim that we are serious graduate students in finance theory and not boorish MBA's. This has poured over into harassing emails from one professor that are the stuff of HUM I, II, III blogging legends. He called us “pretty little people” and decried our smugness, “treating academic discourse as a spectacle to be mocked from the perspective of the real world.” Upside is he is the most enigmatic, bat shit crazy character since Bertram Cohler substituted in my SOSC class and asked people about their sexual predilections in roundtable form.



Miss Self-Important said...

You're getting another degree?

I think the problem there is your discipline and the power of its real world analogue. Why would anyone get a PhD in finance theory if he could just make millions of dollars in finance...practice? Of all people, finance people should be torn apart by that contrast. By contrast, there is no practice of political theory beyond just living, and that's not always more remunerative than being a grad student (implicitly: not living).

Anonymous said...

A self-laudatory engineering degree that requires a MS in Econ or STEM for admission. Some of the cool kids / Chinese people have doctorates in the hard sciences already.

Mostly, I just relish the notion of having gone from 130's math to passing (by an epsilon) graduate analysis. It is the closest I will ever come to getting a lifestyle degree in the spirit of the economist magazine advertisements, although moving to Switzerland to earn an LLM in International Business Diplomacy does sound baller by any standard.

Miss Self-Important said...

I don't even know what a self-laudatory degree is, but I'm pleased that your self-definition is so tightly bound up with the results of Chicago's math placement exam administered in 2003. It gives me great hope that universities will continue to thrive as places of identity formation.

Anonymous said...

Classic example would be executive mba's from places like HYS if you already have a good jd or phd and are a well paid type.