Following several conversation with close friends, was moved to write this after having read Matt Cozart's note of a few days ago:
I'm so fucking angry right now, or whenever I think about career stuff. Why are there never any articles that DON'T assume you've already had years of experience in a high level professional job? Why can't there be articles that tell people like me what to do? People with no skills or experience or even a slight sense of what the hell they want to do with their life??? I just don't know what to do anymore. It would be one thing if I knew what I wanted to do but simply couldn't find a job. That wouldn't be as bad. My problem is that I have never seriously considered any particular career in anything, and now I feel completely lost and defeated. How did I end up this way? I'm a college graduate, I've always done what I'm told, I don't get into trouble. I've done everything right!!!! And I still can't seem to figure out how to be an "adult", which seems to come completely naturally to everyone else. What is going on?????What indeed, dear Matt, is going on . . . I'm sure I may get comments from people saying, more or less, "Man, you should have seen how we lived in Brooklyn in the 70s (slash 40s slash 80s)!" So I'll state in advance: I really don't care for this kind of comment. It's irrelevant to my general hypothesis, namely that the fetishistic "professionalization" of Western society means that we are forced to choose very early our "path", and the fact that this is then set in stone as a deterministic element of individuals' identities almost entirely precludes any free and considered choice of what one may indeed "want to do". I cannot tell you the number of times for instance that I've heard, over the last several years, this exchange:
- It's just too late for me now to be an architect/doctor/chef/artist. . .
- Oh, how old are you?
- I see.
The whole "career mobility" line, specific to our contemporary Weltanschauung, is a sham. (Note, for instance, how the "Sauder Career Success Cycle" is hilariously just one big hermetically sealed self-perpetuating self-referential loop leading nowhere . . .)
See Matt, you should be able to walk into a plethora of fulfilling positions. Why is it so difficult?
This is why:
1. The ridiculous need in our society for an endlessly self-perpetuating number of degrees, certificates, diplomas, qualifications, CV references, to obtain the most junior position, anywhere, in any field. "Education" has turned pornographic. Not everyone needs to attend a university, and above all, not everyone should feel they have the obligation to do this in order to "get ahead". What happened to respect for people who had primarily technical knowledge, acquired over a short period of time, and then perfected over a practical duration? If this is respected, then individuals are also respected according not to what they "have done", but what they may do or are capable of doing. Respect for what individuals are inherently capable of doing, through their intrinsic capacities, has been buried under this infatuation for mythical epistemic accreditation. There is techne. Not all is episteme.
2. The massive extension in time now required to even enter into adult working life. 7 year med degrees, 7 year law degrees, 7 year grad programs. My undergraduate professors, who completed their studies in the sixties, used to talk of how they went into good-paying, full-time jobs after having obtained their Masters degrees.
Their Masters degrees.
Are we clear?
This means, in many cases, that today, young people under 30, if they're working at the same time, can spend upwards of 10 years in shitty, part-time poorly-paid scraping together enough shit to live on lives. (Oh and by the way, education used to free . . .) Of course, you're indeed a very lucky S.O.B (my case) if your parents are in a position to help you out financially and socially over this "formative" period. For many, or perhaps the majority, this is of course not possible.
I was reflecting on all this the other day, and was shocked to realize that, if I'm not mistaken, my parents were in the process of building their first house together when they were my age.
Currently, nothing seems further from the realms of the possible for me, and for the majority of other young people I know.
I am thus preparing myself, for the next two months, to put on minimal cologne and pack an extra pair of pantyhose (see below).
This is why it is harder being young today than it ever used to be. But feel free to berate. The Newer Metaphysicals is always up for a good inter-generational flame-war . . .