Friday, June 30
I am contemplating faking my own death. Does confessing that cross some academicsecret line? The invitation was un-Clear. I have already told some people that if they hear that I have died but that "they haven't found the body," it means I am not dead and they should not be sad. I guess I would worry that might out my secret academicsecret identity, except that I cannot imagine that I am the only academic out there who is contemplating faking her own death.

Okay, I am not actually contemplating faking my own death. I just fantasize about it. The reason I fantasize about it is that faking my own death seems like the most efficient, and possibly the only, way of getting myself out of some of the ridiculous and stultifying set of obligations I have gotten myself ensnared in here. You would think I could solve the problem with some heart-to-heart talks and apologies. But I am much too conflict averse for that. So, instead, I imagine disappearing and showing up elsewhere, perhaps in Las Vegas, working as a croupier. I suspect in today's world it is very hard to fake your own death because of all the documentation, etc., involved in starting up a new identity. It's not like those Agatha Christie novels set after WWII where it seemed like everyone had taken the opportunity of near-invasion to start over as someone different. Sometimes I wonder if a secret motive of many of the more ardent privacy advocates in academia is they want to be able to continue to entertain the idea of being able to fake their own death if the burden of ungratifying and unextricatable obligations becomes too great.

A main problem for me is that the rate at which I dispatch with obligations is nothing compared to either the rate at which I take on new projects or the rate at which interests develop/atrophy. So I am confronted with a long to-do list of things most of which I am no longer especially interested in. I am trying to be better about using past progress as an indicator of what I should adopt as future committments, rather than delusions about suddenly becoming a new and much more productive incarnation of myself, but this so far has met with limited success. This leads to the conclusion that I need to declare some kind of obligations-bankruptcy, but academia is not very forgiving of that unless you stage some kind of intellectual epiphany, for which I do not have the energy or acting ability. And from here, to the idea that faking my own death is really the only sensible route.

3 comments:

Cerise said...

In order to make the academicsecret connection, wouldn't it also have to be widely known that you were not, in fact, dead? In which case you'd have larger problems.

I would think that a major factor that makes it difficult to fake your own death would be that faking your own death is probably a typically criminal activity, and the people who engage in it are likely to be "in the system," as it were. If your fingerprints and/or DNA aren't on file with law enforcement agencies, you probably have an edge.

thistle said...

Have you read Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood? Good tips on faking your own death.

Anonymous said...

As it happens, you do have an academic secret ghost in your presence, and I have to say, it's not half bad. The problem, as Cherise points out is that you don't get to keep all the things that are producing the obligations, but it is surprisingly EASY to make them evaporate. It only take a hint of leprosy (or a little drool escaping from the corner of the mouth--whatever send the message that you are off your game no longer of use to them.) Personally, I love being dead, but most of my friends... well it would kill them to be out of the loop.