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Monday, January 07, 2008
by Jesse Reklaw

From the introduction: "One night while rooting through the recycling bin for magazines, I found all the confidential Ph.D. application files for the biology department at an Ivy League university from the years 1965-1975. Stapled to many of the yellowed documents were photographs of the prospective students. ...

The recommendation forms supplied accompaniment, via their "strengths and weaknesses" or "personality" sections. The quotes below each photo are actual things said about the pictured students by their former professors or employers, not intended to be seen by anyone but the application review committee."

It's really wonderful and kind of creepy at the same time; a little Found Magazine, a little Post Secret. To give you a taste of what the commentary is like, the comments for the guy on the cover included: "No brooding malaise or bitter rebellion in this man." It's fascinating -- not just for the tiny illicit thrill of reading something you were never meant to read, but also for the '65-'75 assumptions made about gender ("domestic responsibilities may intervene"), race ("she seems to be well adjusted to society") and lifestyle (HIPPIE). (as many assumptions are probably made today, but buried under the coded language of our times.)

I found it at the library (which is building a great zine collection), but you can buy it directly from microcosm press for only 3 bucks! (both Amazon and Powell's have it for $4, which is still a bargain.)
3 comments on "Applicant"
  1. 3 or 4 bucks is super inexpensive. However, I reserved a copy. It looks fun, and I like the fun.

  2. I think you will like it. It made me never, EVER want to read what was written about me after my job interview. (except of course I suspect it includes "wears clown pajamas to a job interview!")

  3. Clown pajamas didn't seem to hinder your acceptance, so that is pretty awesome. Never mind what it says about the people interviewing, but that is neither here nor there. You are here, there and everywhere. That is what counts.


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