I studied philosophy from 1972 to 1981 in Australia and I taught as a part-time TA during the last 5 years of that period. All along, I felt constantly neglected, misperceived, ignored, and reduced to silence, but I kept on because I loved philosophy and wanted an academic job to let me continue doing it. Then I took up the chance to go to Paris to study on a scholarship, and I was even more misperceived and silenced, as I was an anonymous foreigner with a horrible accent who spoke the language badly.
Despite all this I was happy to stay on in France, even after I dropped out of University after 4 years, when the scholarship ran out. I began teaching English, at first combining several part-time jobs, but after quite a long time I took on French nationality and joined the French National Education system.
From the beginning I was wildly lonely, especially intellectually, but I was constantly exposed to living philosophers, going to classes by Deleuze, Lyotard, Foucault, Michel Serres, seeing them on TV, hearing them on the radio, reading their books and their articles in the newspaper. Even after leaving academia I was thinking about philosophy most of the time. I considered that I was a “philosopher” even if I wasn’t enrolled in a philosophy degree or teaching it anymore.
However, after about 12 years of that, without having any academic philosophy contacts I began to consider myself to be an “ex-philosopher”, with considerable sadness at first, and then resignation. After nearly 10 years of thinking and feeling like that I “came back” to philosophy: first by means of listening to podcasted courses and reading philosophical blogs, then by starting a blog myself.(roughly 5 years ago). I began to think of myself as a philosopher-just-not-a-philosophy-teacher again, but I realised that this was a way to protect my feelings and to affirm myself despite a lack of “legitimacy”. Here I was silenced by just about everyone, not just in the academy, as I was in the wrong category (“English teacher”) to be a philosopher, and people would just tune out or actively silence me if I talked outside my category.
Yet at the same time I sympathised with my favorite philosopher, Paul Feyerabend, who taught philosophy all his life and was famous as a philosopher of science. Feyerabend often reiterated during the last decade of his life that he was not a “philosopher”, and one of his lasts texts is entitled NOT A PHILOSOPHER. He did not want to be perceived in terms of a category, that further he felt to be basically a socio-economic designation, and so refused the very title that I claimed, but for the same reasons.
So one some days I feel that I am not a philosopher, and probably never really was, and on other days I feel that all my life has been permeated by philosophy and that I would not be living where I am (in Nice, on the French Riviera) nor would I have met my wonderful wife and had my amazing and loveable children without my love for philosophy.
Amor fati: sometimes it is the sense of fatum that is predominant, sometimes the sense of amor. This is how far being silenced over something I love has driven me, and these are some of the ensung self-transformations that I have gone through.