with intense eagerness since 2012! a channel of the los angeles review of books

Multiplatforming Applicationality


Dear Colleagues:

Please accept my application for a new kind of early career faculty member, not defined by discipline, rather by his or her unique and iconoclastic experience, style and points of view at the MIT Media Lab. I am currently Associate Professor of History at the University of South Florida and while this may seem insufficiently iconoclastic, I’ve long felt stymied by my department’s, and in fact, the discipline’s and the university’s, lack of innovision.

orthogonal! confluence! wait, what?

What draws me to the job in particular is the combination of “boundless optimism” and “extreme creativity,” both of which I have in abundance. I know I’m burdened by having spent a lot of time as a traditional academic, a position that is an obvious hindrance to being an academic, but I’m pretty sure I’m an orthogonal and counter-intuitive thinker, so this probably won’t be a problem. I’m really into the not normally juxtaposed. Let me list a few not normally justaposed fields I’m interested in juxtaposing that others would take as overly orthogonal (some I love, some I hate, but really, same thing, right?):

Ham                                                                            Patents

Chefs                                                                           Zeppelins

DJ Khaled                                                                   Self-help manuals

The Beatles                                                                 Almond milk

Mark Zuckerberg                                                      C++

Memes                                                                         Apocalypse

Incest                                                                          Friends

Media Labs (excluding MIT Media Lab)

As for experience, I’m from New Jersey, live in Temple Terrace, Florida, once rowed an inflatable raft down the Raritan River, saw The-Dream live, saw Robin Williams walking down the street in Manhattan (this is disputed), survived Hurricane Irma, can use a computer, and usually sleep on a couch. This is like the tip of the iceberg, but I think it gives you a sense of what I offer, and suffice to say, it definitely “defines a community.”

As you have already probably discerned, “big ideas” are my thing.

If I had one concern about my fit for the job, it would be regarding “desire to change the world.” It’s not so much that I have no desire to change the world – it’s pretty terrible, after all, and if there is one thing that could change it for the better, I’m pretty certain it is the MIT Media Lab, especially when filled with extremely iconoclastic, juxtapositional thinkers. So it’s not change so much as it is my concern with desire itself. As the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan once said, “Man’s desire is always the desire of the Other.” So do you actually desire that I desire to change the world? Or is your desire simply the desire of the Other, and thus you don’t really desire that I desire to change the world? Who knows? What is appealing, though, is knowing in advance that I can never satisfy the desire of the Other, so no matter how juxtaposed, iconoclastic, orthogonal, and optimistic I might be, I will have always already failed, making me work that much harder. It’s this kind of thinking that has destroyed the university so far and I, for one, can’t wait to join you on this journey.

In closing, in lieu of a portfolio of extreme creativity, I submit only this letter, itself as extremely creative as I can be vis a vis my desire to change the world. References, I mean, c’mon, I’m not going to fall for that bit of conventional thinking! This may seem unconventional and I know it is boundlessly optimistic, but is it iconoclastic? That’s for you to decide. Should you choose to hire me I foresee a fruitful future in which we destroy the university and the world together. Change! I meant change the university and world together.

Orthogonally yours,

Brian Connolly


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