A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Institute for Institutional Prose

I rip on academia a fair amount in my blog and deservedly so, in my opinion. But there are a lot of smart, and funny, people on any university campus. Kinda goes with the territory. Here's a small sample from one of those smart, and funny, people on my campus:
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, the Institute for Institutional Prose is being inundated with thanks, mostly for our efforts in forwarding the bureaucratization of the campus prose style, but also for things we have not done at all. "Thanks for your cooperation," writes one of our favorite administrators in a memo about some issue which concerns us not at all. We also find ourselves being thanked for charitable contributions we do not make, for subscribing to magazines we do not take, and for helping various Third World parties make bank transfers. The world overflows with gratitude tendered in advance.

There was a time, of course, when people seeking one's cooperation, compliance, or help would say "please." That sort of humble-pie approach hardly befits the dignity of those who have achieved the rank of assistant to the assistant director or the like, and for a while it was replaced with expressions like "We would appreciate your cooperation," the notion being that the desire to earn the writer's appreciation would motivate instant compliance. That still allowed for the possibility, however, that the recipient might not do as asked, leading to the disappearance of the conditional "would" in phrases like "We appreciate your cooperation." The pre-emptive thank-you carries this process one step further, and we urge its regular use.

Thank you for your substantial cash donation in generous support of the work of the Institute. We especially appreciate small, unmarked bills.

[Thank you, too, for consulting previous bulletins of the Institute for Institutional Prose at http://it.uwp.edu/iip.]
If you enjoyed that tasty morsel, do check out the iip at the above web site-- there's quite a bit more there. Good stuff, all.


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