Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Interview with a Candidate for Many Jobs (but Winner of None) SEK: Thanks for agreeing to this despite it being such a stupid idea. ANON: It's on your blog. They'll know it's you. SEK: Except I'm not on the market this year. I'm sure you'll reveal yourself unwittingly somehow and end up on the streets. ANON: Giving handjobs for crack? SEK: If you must. ANON: I must. So what do you think your readers want to know about failure? SEK: How to avoid it. ANON: Don't go to grad school. SEK: Granted. ANON: Because once you're in you're doomed. SEK: Granted. But I think people would be more interested in the particular failures they ought to avoid. ANON: Complete with revealing details? SEK: They will be curious. ANON: I would be too. But I'm not into gratification. SEK: We've been trained. I hear a bell and look for a lever. ANON: So should we riff behaviorist or tell the people what they want to know? SEK: The latter. ANON: We should start by having you ask me a probing question. SEK: If you had once piece of advice for people about to hit the market what would it be? ANON: Perspective. Never travel without spare perspective. For me it came from reading Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Not the book, which I started when I was next to death with pneumonia, and put down immediately upon recovery to continue reading journals relevant to my field. It's the quotation that opens it: "Of what import are brief, nameless lives ... to Galactus??" SEK: So your advice to candidates is to take consolation in the fact that the entire planet isn't being devoured by The Eater of Worlds? ANON: The alternative requires an absurd calculus of merit and need that no human will be able to fathom short of the Singularity. SEK: I'm not sure how follow Galactus. ANON: You can't. That's why he's King of Perspective-Bringing.

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