Friday, April 10, 2009

APA Adventures

Well, I'm no longer a stranger to the way of the current APA. I'm missing out on some morning sessions to recuperate myself. It takes about 2 hours from Burnaby by transit to get to the downtown location, the Westin Bayshore Hotel.

Here are some humorous observations.

My wife commented that there were three categories of philosophical dress. I thought these were really entertaining.

1. The Disheveled Unorganized Grad -- this PhD student simply hasn't gotten elements of his personal life together. This student has his personal affairs in order, and is organized in their philosophical work--but that's all they have organized. Their manner of dress includes just rolling out of bed and putting on what is available. No fashion sense. Hair is unkempt, but fashionably appropriate when one recalls the outlandish hair of Wittgenstein, or the side portrait of Nietzsche.

My wife also has labelled 1. "The YOU category" when talking to me.

2. The Eccentric -- As is hard to do philosophically, the defense of a middle position between two extremes is difficult to defend, but not this time. Being eccentric amounts to having some manner of either hair, dress or last night, someone's glasses were tubular plastic in perfect round circulars, as if someone had wrapped think insulation wire around the frame. Said person was really nice, and smart as hell. It was just one oddity about said person. The eccentricity is usually just one personal aspect that signifies said person.

3. The Prep -- this PhD student comes from money. The leisure afforded to philosophical pursuit is strengthened by coming from money and not to mention shoes that cost your rent for a month. Eeegads. To boot, if these students are near defending their thesis they can be slightly stand-offish from the more under-developed budding PhD students that surround them.

Now, I am not saying these are all the categories that could possibly exist. In fact, there could be many more. However, these three categories best explain the maturation of these individuals into -- shall we dare say -- faculty. From the men I saw, this means that wherever we fit into 1, 2, or 3, our blazer will reflect where we come from. As PhDs move into something called jobs (a foreign word at this point in time even to myself) the manner of their dress improves in quality, but the assemblage of it will still fit 1, 2 or 3 (usually exemplified by the sports coat). I assume that this works for female faculty, but I know next to nothing of the stylish habits and manners of dress to render a plausible opinion without offending.

I should also comment that there are several types of responders. These come from faculty who bemusingly barrage PhD students into submission. The hope is that they survive long enough to learn that it is appropriate for them to train "the next stock" of upcoming PhD when they are "landed". This behavior has its roots in Socratic gadflyness for sure.

1. I loved your presentation...
2. I loved your presentation, but...
3. I wonder if you would consider (insert non-sequitur theoretical approach exemplified by the Professor asking)
4. zzzzzzzZZZZ (The long-winded, opinionated interlocutor that finds it suitable to ask his/her question, taking the entire question period to explain their point. The upshot of this is usually this person specialized in the area has something significant to say.)
5. I disagree
6. I disagree wholly (This approach can be mildly presented in tone or come at you like an F-22 Raptor fulfilling its sortie. In this exchange, the whole point of someone's project and/or dissertation is shot to hell. PhD students can come back, or choose to humble themselves.)
7. I'm confused on this one point of your argument. (Essentially the clarification question, this is the most hoped for question. As it is expository, the PhD student can have some reprieve from the other manner of questions. However, allowing a follow-up from this same person generates a 5 or 6 usually)

Well, that's all I have to share. I've gotten a few ideas to address from some of the sessions. I'll be more active after the conference for sure.

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