Sweet Are The Uses of Spite

I’m still here. It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy (as long as I don’t think about my precarious employment status). Soon, I hope to write a real post to answer such burning questions as “what is enraging PAINYC this week?”.

But first I want to mention that something surprising has been happening on this blog while I have been drinking wine and not looking for a job. My post, “How To Finish Your Dissertation When You Really Hate That Shit,” continues to get page views and responses almost 2 years after I published it. WHAT? There are 57 comments (and growing) on that humble missive in which I suggest that it is possible to finish the dreaded dissertation by cultivating spite.

“Spite,” I wrote, “motivates in the absence of any rational context for making progress and in the knowledge that all your effort will most likely come to nothing.” Still true.

It is gratifying that people are still commenting on the post and using that space to talk to each other. The notion that spite can be useful seems to resonate. Why is that? What does that say about dissertations, about grad school? Obviously I believe in the power of spite, but the popularity of the post was still unexpected.

Perhaps spite is an emotion that can be cultivated for all sorts of purposes. Maybe spite needs to be reclaimed as a source of power in terrible times? Is it purely an individual strategy or could it be used for collective purposes? What do you think, post-ac blogosphere?  What are the uses of spite?

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6 Responses to Sweet Are The Uses of Spite

  1. Wanting to succeed in order to rub it in the faces of people who thought you couldn’t is a good motivator. And if it involves them failing, it is even better. And this is absolutely operative at collective levels, such as teams, firms, or other organizational units.

  2. thedj4461 says:

    great to see you back :)

  3. Downturnsurvivor says:

    So glad you’re back. Keep it coming. This blog rocks.

  4. Kelsey says:

    Just landed here today. Yeah the article, hell the title alone, took the words right out of my mouth. I googled God and dissertation and found you. Ha! I have an 11:59 PM deadline and I cannot let 7 years go void. Lets see how this spite goes :)

  5. Yeap, I got here through that very same post, because I just can’t finish my diss. After 2 years, it’s sitting there, almost finished, but I just can’t do it. I’ve blogged about it too, and those posts (on in particular) bring on a lot of traffic -well, it was before silly me used freakin’ grumpy cat as feature image in another post-. I think it’s because we’re all trying to find that we are not indeed useless, retarded students who are being tortured at will by their advisors. Your post gave me a whole new point of view, so thanks for that.

    Oh and BTW, really cool blog you got going on here!

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