John Protevi wishes to talk about those who meet with academic rejection, and undertakes a Deleuzian analysis. He talks about the “job lottery” and about the ” injection of sheer luck into placement and advancement”, but we have seen that this is not the full story. It may be luck, in the sense of good fortune, but it is not “sheer luck”, it is not a game of chance but of reticular compatibility. We all know dull plodding eager-to-please-those-in-power spirits who have succeeded against wilder talents. Deleuze, in talking about sport, gives a lesson that can also be applied to academia. He talks about those who have obtained a form of quantitative (number of publications) and mimetic (the right sort of publications, i.e. the right sort of quality), and how they are so often better placed than those who attempt a qualitative leap (the “wrong” sort of quality). Quantitative mimetic masters can be found everywhere, they profit from previous models and are readily identifiable as good reticular subjects, yet they are often, while competent, completely uninteresting.
My problem is one of becoming: What do those rejected for any length of time become? I don’t think that they stay the same, but just live in circumstances that are less favorable to intellectual production (even if that is not always the case). I don’t think that it is just a case of less opportunity to actualise one’s philosophical qualities. Not only does one have less opportunity to actualise, one has less opportunity to cultivate and improve those powers, and they begin to change. In part, they rot, part of them dies. In part, they become something else.
My second question is: what sort of, and what degree of, sacrifice is needed to succeed academically despite these difficult circumstances? If the price is too high, many people who are willing to work hard and well may not be willing to sacrifice the bulk of their life to getting it back on the (academic) success track. It may be possible, one may know people who have done it, but it may not be desirable for many people who were capable of it. As Deleuze says, noone notices an absence.