Wednesday, July 26
So, in my first post, I talked about how I was seriously contemplating faking my own death just to get away from this ridiculous mess of academic obligations I've gotten myself into. I know, you don't believe me. Wonderful! You are absolutely right! Keep on thinking that!

Meanwhile, I continue to lay the groundwork. After weighing various alternatives and re-watching Sleeping with the Enemy, I'm increasingly convinced that drowning is the way to go. So I've lately taken to inserting into conversations that I can't swim. I'm not a great swimmer, but I've confirmed that I can sign up for Adult Ed intermediate swim lessons pseudonymously so long as I pay cash. I haven't decided what would be the best conditions for turning up missing-at-sea, but I've been thinking a pellagic-bird-and-whale-watching-trip gone horribly wrong.

A different problem with faking your own death is what to do afterward. You can't just sit around being not-really-dead day after day; you have to do something with your new life. Here, academics face the special problem where credentials do not transfer from a deceased identity to a new one. Almost makes me wish I had spent all that time in schooling acquiring expertise that could be demonstrated without the aid of a diploma. Still, I have been stockpiling anecdotes about academia--let me know if you have any tales, especially of wild malfeasance or ineptitude--and I've wondered if I might be able to turn them into a good mystery novel.

Of course, I wouldn't have to fake my own death if I could just tell people I wasn't interested in this-or-that anymore and that, with profuse apologies, I wasn't ever going to get around to doing this-or-that. But why disappoint when you can disappear?

11 comments:

Turquoise Stuff said...

I don't have an answer for you, just a question.

Ever since you've identified - in that really deep way - this problem of mounting and annoying obligations, have you gotten better about saying no to invitations and requests?

Regarding the faking-your-own-death scenario, professional next steps are not the only concern. If you have friends and family, what happens to all those connections? Seems like it would be a lonely world out there.

Scarlet said...

You know, you can get better at it, and if the number of new obligations still exceeds the number of dispatched obligations, the whole still gets deeper.

You're right that the question of how many people you tell is a hard one for faking your own death. Let's just say, planning to fake your own death provides occasion to reflect on the friends you really want to hold onto, as well as the capacity of various friends to keep secrets.

Scarlet said...

I meant "hole" instead of "whole" above.

fraud, in denim said...

Posts like this scare me. But they also remind me not to be so jealous when my partner's approached by students after student to talk about their work and my email box sits empty, because apparently no student in my department does what I do.

Now, more pointedly with the whole death scenario: I don't know what kind of person you are, but if I were to fake my own death, I wouldn't choose the profession of an over-educated person like my current self, or anything that took real training. I would move to Maine, or Seattle - someplace with water, but without bikinis - and I would take a job where no one would expect me to have much insight or intelligence and I use my unimposing position and nature to really get through to them and help them see the light, to wow them with insight.

Right now I feel like unless I just tell people I'm a teacher most people think of me as an over-educated liberal snot who could spend too much time in school because I must not have had to really work for a living.

But that's just me. What do you think your second life would be, Scarlet? Or are you still working that out?

fraud, in denim said...

I need to stop posting after wine. Or just find a proof-reader.

Clear said...

We need more posting after wine, not less.

Meanwhile, I have thought also about faking my own death to get away from job duties, but I think it would be extra-complicated to pull off if you are not an American citizen but would just as soon stay here for your afterlife.

thistle said...

Have you thought about faking institutionalization for mental illness or incarceration instead of your death? You could get off of all kinds of committees and out of writing book chapters and whatever you're avoiding, while there's still the possibility that you could get out of the institution one day.
Wait - I've got it - take a trip to a country with poor human rights status, make up a story that you did something really heroic that got you arrested and that the authorities are holding you in jail. When nobody can confirm your incarceration, it could be the authorities covering it up. Then, when you reappear after 10 years (during which all your obligations presumably went away), you could say you lived in the bush with a band of guerilla freedom fighters. How much of a star would you be!!

Turquoise Stuff said...

I like thistle's suggestion, it seems like a nice in-between solution.

This discussion is starting to remind me of the strategic incompetence thread from before. That is, to what extent might it be possible to go that route? It would be less messy (granted, also less adventurous) although obviously you'd still have to deal with some consequences. But I suspect eventually people would stop asking you to do things if you never ever met any deadlines and such.

Or are you afraid of that life in this life?

Oh, and interesting point about this helping one see who the important and trustworthy friends are.

I don't think this comment is very coherent, but I don't seem to be able to fix it. I think fraud has a point about a certain level of state of mind necessary to comment. Oh well.

kodachrome said...

Turq, I think the idea of being afraid of having "that [strategically incompetent] life in this life" is one of the most coherent things I've heard an academic say in a long time. In fact, my guess is that these things are hard to say because they get at fundamental contradictions in our lives that we don't have good ways of articulating. Kudos!

Scarlet, I am awfully glad to see you're still with us! I *did** notice your were missing. (Post about that on it's way.)

Turquoise Stuff said...

Hey Kodachrome, welcome back. Funny, I was just thinking that we hadn't seen you around here in a while.

I somewhat wonder if you were just making fun of me about that comment being coherent (especially given my state of mind when I wrote it) since it seems much less coherent to me now. Oh well, adds to the discussion I guess.:)

Regarding people missing, the whole anon feature makes that component a bit creepy. We couldn't really go track someone down if we got worried or something. Hmm..

fraud, in denim said...

I was just going to say, "Speaking of missing people," to Kodachrome.

I'll look forward to the upcoming post about missing colors.

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