[Love these contributions! Keep them coming. Eds]

From ‘Shorn of the (not yet) Dead’

Star trekking across the looneyverse

Dear Captain Janway,

As you can probably tell, I’m a bit of science fiction fan. I love the way that SF ‘blends’ reality and fantasy. As the ‘UWS Enterprise’ hurtles through space to boldly go where no university has gone before, I thought I’d post an entry from my star blog along the way. I was at your visit to our school the other day, where, along with our fellow astronaut ‘Buzz (I can fly) Lightyear’, you came to listen to our questions about our latest stellar mission, ‘Project Blend’ and that little bit of ‘judicious’ clipping you want to do. As I was listening to you tell us how much you ‘didn’t know’ about what was happening below the deck, I started to speculate in a SF kind of way (I’m a self confessed fanatic, after all) about what you saw when you looked out at us. The first blended image (we could call it metaphor if we wanted) that popped into my mind was that of a pen of fattened and fluffy merino sheep in need of a good fleecing (please write if you would like to know what we thought we were looking at. It might entertain you in a SF kind of way, as an alternative view to the ‘My Voice Survey’, perhaps. That ‘vision’ ended up in a slightly cracked mirror, didn’t it?) We might look like cloth ears to be ‘cut’ for next year’s UWS ‘fashion show’ but we’re not blind. Or for that matter deaf. And I have to say, Mission Control, that the official language is awful, really really bad. So bad it hurts to look at it.

Help me Rhonda, but that last email about the recent Academic Year Review (another mirror-work in progress it seems) did not knock my socks off. It make my eyeballs bleed (sorry, I’m blending genres here, aren’t I? Although, shouldn’t that score me one of those certificates you lot are always handing out ‘Wizard of Oz’ style? Sorry, there I go again, blending …). The ostensible function of the review seems to be to promote the vision of a trimester system. You write that ‘consultation is still ‘ongoing’ and that the review ‘team’ is holding ‘focus groups’ and ‘meetings’ with staff. Your next sentence reads ‘We will now spend some time reviewing your feedback and are committed to working with you to review ways in which we could provide students with a more flexible and enriching learning experience.’ How weasley is that? And then you say ‘It is expected that a decision about the next steps will be made by the UWS Board of Trustees by the end of the year.’ Why bother with the review or consultation, I ask? Meanwhile you encourage us ‘to provide further feedback via the online form’. What kind of dodos do you think we are? The last time UWS had anything that resembled a representative system was donkey’s years ago. And, I have to say, with reference to a fellow abductee from planet Earth, I now know how Ford Prefect felt when the Vogons strapped him into their poetry appreciation machine, a restraining harness which was the only means whereby they could get a sentient being to listen to them, and not without she or he feeling violently ill.

In the flowerbed of philosophy, a rather weedy character once observed that it’s the discourse of the torturer that observes the niceties and phatic functions of language. It’s the victims that scream and use bad language. He and his grassy mate also noted that phatic ‘innocuisms’ are really ‘order words’, they’re about putting you in a double bind and getting you to comply with a hidden and often brutalising agenda.

That’s it for now. I’m about to teleport to the ‘signature’ campus of Starfleet command (I choose to travel this way because its smarter than having to exceed my yearly workload travel allowance trying to find a parking spot, and I haven’t yet found a way of eating my car. It also prevents me from getting into the habit of using it as an office as a fellow star-trooper suggests ). ‘Beam me up, Scotty’.