Narrowly escaping the academic life

This really struck a chord with me given my continued ambivalence about a career in academia:

With my new eyes I re-survey the life around me. Most particularly I become frightened to realize how close I came to letting myself slide into the academic life. It would have been effortless … just keep on making good grades—(I probably would have stayed in English—I just don’t have the math ability for Philosophy)—stayed for a master’s and a teaching assistantship, wrote a couple of papers on obscure subjects that nobody cares about, and, at the age of sixty, be ugly and respected and a full professor. Why, I was looking through the English Dept. publications in the library today—long (hundreds of pages) monographs on such subjects as: The Use of “Tu” and “Vous” in Voltaire; The Social Criticism of Fenimore Cooper; A Bibliography of the Writings of Bret Harte in the Magazines + Newspapers of California (1859–1891) … Jesus Christ! What did I almost submit to?!?

– Reborn: Early Diaries 1947-1963 by Susan Sontag

Categories: Higher Education


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