14½ Truths Modestly Addressed to a Young Academic

by | 15 Oct 2015

Image courtesy of Kiriakos Sifiltzoglou.

Image courtesy of Kiriakos Sifiltzoglou.


1. You are always at a loss. This is not a problem.

2. A view cannot be anything but variable, you do not hold it, nor should an audience hear it as held.

3. Distrust anyone who all too willingly wishes to exercise his or her supposed benevolent power on you. They are certainly the most insecure for they know that power is not a fruit to pick, and yet live in perpetual denial.

4. Do not participate in gossip. Make that known subtly. Gossip is one of the key assassination tactics in academia; sad existences wishing to enjoy their destructive idiocy.

5. Avoid polemics at all costs. Those who make their polemics their politics are the worst type of an academic: the sad narcissist with only a single mirror at hand.

6. You will struggle to not be entirely direct in academic situations, but you can try, while most time will be wasted in frivolity. That is good politics, learning to hide so to appear when you are least expected.

7. You do not need to ask clever questions in events. They are never that clever. Ask a question that is clear and meaningful to you. Otherwise listen or sleep quietly.

8. One must struggle to find slowness and hesitation in thinking, reading and writing, but most of all in conversation with oneself and others. Speed is not a good creative process but it can be an unenforced positive effect at times.

9. Be angry, if you must, but with humour. The former without the latter is ugly.

10. Learning to fail is something to eventually master. One starts by realising that they fail even in the successful sentence or gesture.

11. There is never a good reason to be mean, but by error.

12. Avoid academic cults at all costs. They are always a one-man show, and they are full of bitterness aggrandized as a force of power.

13. Stop building your identity. No one has one.

14. If you do feel despair or sadness, go to the library and wonder among older books. Some of them are very young indeed. If that does not work, walk.

Thanos Zartaloudis is Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Kent.


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