The first was what looked like an old photocopy of a chapter entitled "The Hiring Process in Academia." Okay, so I know I need a job. At this point maybe any job. So that's fair.
The second and more telling paper was also an old photocopy, but this time of a chapter called "The dissertation's deadly sins" by Robert Plant Armstrong (Not, I don't think, of Led Zeppelin fame). So you can experience this along with me, here's an pretty representative excerpt from his introductory remarks:
"The dissertation system must have laid at its door an enormous squandering of creativity, youth, time, and money each year upon the execution of prose works that do not communicate significantly and are therefore dysfunctional."
...Armstrong continues by describing, in barely constrained glee, the "six grievous assaults" upon discourse perpetrated by the graduate student via his devil tool, the dissertation as "...amateurism, redundancy, trivialization, specializationalism, reductionism, and arrogance. One or all of these defects can usually be found in any given dissertation."
What I wonder, is this tempting fate? Is it too cynical to simply assume that I too will write such crap? That by having such low expectations I will fulfill them? Or is it a pragmatic view that will help me get out the door?
Perhaps I can feel comforted that the leaver of said papers tried to mask this indictment as a gift by also leaving behind a small plastic cup full of flowers and a giant shipping tube.