The end of the Long Leachas last Sunday evening was magical. The ground fell away steeply enough to bring out all the emptiness around Culra, filling with lesser and greater change, the shadow of the hill and autumn reddening. It would soon be, and now is, two years since I left academia. This is something of a landmark.
I still wonder about things. Would it have been different if I had done that extra bit of hourly paid teaching? But then, the committee whose chair was so kind as to tell me I hadn’t taught enough in that field, did not have to interview me to work that out.
Different if I had listened to the person who said that X was known to have sabotaged projects? But then, I was fed up with cultures of backstabbing and briefing against colleagues behind their back, and wanted to think the best again, to make up my own mind.
Different if … but things are as they are. I still try to think and write, to continue the intellectual pursuit and keep in touch with personal friends made over the years. Perhaps that is why I am still thrown by news that reminds me of the fact that integrity is no match for reputation.
Stopping work in academia is as simple as handing back the key and getting on the campus bus. But if one does not, as it turns out, want to leave all of it behind, what sort of relationship is left? If one continues to publish, is one really contributing at all to a discouse whose interests and agenda are so much defined by other factors? And if one is contributing, is that not an endorsement?
No easy answers. One thing I am trying at the moment is to present not only the lines of cross-language and -literature research the article picks up, but also to respond to the uneasy relationship between the ideals of inclusivity so much a part of that research and some realities of professional selectivity. Not just the gap in the literature, in other words, but why that gap might exist. This is not necessarily easy to do without coming across as axe-grinding, which is not what any of this is about, but the attempt is worth it, I think.