College Composition Embraces Obfuscation

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by Diana Senechal

“Our faculty used to dread grading papers,” said Turpin. “Now morale and scores are higher than ever.”

Greenview, Indiana—At Inchoate Thyme College, beginning in September, professors will no longer encourage students to seek clarity in their writing. Nor will they include Strunk and White’s Elements of Style in their required or optional readings.

A course description explains this sea change: “Extensive studies of postmodern neoapproaches to Jungian language mediation have shown personality-type-sensitively that if one subverts the traditional transmission model of writing instruction one ends up with a significantly higher probability of producing ironic and paradigm-shifting expression events that few will endeavor to dissect let alone criticize than one does under control conditions.”

“Clarity has run its course,” says Professor Alan Turpin, chair of the Communicative Transformations Department at Inchoate Thyme. “We’re in an era of muddiness now. We’ve been fighting it for decades. Time to embrace it. I should be doing it too. Look at me. I’m making sense. Bad, bad, bad. That isn’t the way of the future.”

Embracing the muddiness has long-term intellectual and physical consequences, many of them positive, noted Shelly Polozhitelna, a resident research postmodern psychologist. “For example, it is incumbent upon students to embrace their oppressed identities leading to studies validating the subtexts of their marginalized and encoded existence while pursuing codes of expression that preserve the potential explosivity of a silenced and captive persona while aggressively pursuing career connections and GPA outcomes.”

“Awesome,” said Stella Shrutentown, a senior. “I’m like all over it. Hey! John, did you get my text?” she yelled out to a young man crossing through the courtyard. “I mean did you receive it? Forget I said that! Let’s just go back to ‘get.’ You’re not supposed to know what I mean anyway. Come over here and guess what I meant if you’re interested. And I won’t tell you if you’re right or wrong.” She turned back to us. “Ambiguity is like so flirty.”

After an indecipherable exchange with Stella, John Rovenbruder divulged his own views on the matter. “The imposition of clarity is hierarchical and over-intellectual and symptomatic of like a totally passive industrial model. If your thoughts are like all jumbled up, then the authentic expression of those thoughts is going to like locate itself in the construct of a jumble. In this manner the new system comes closer to tapping into who we really are.”

In order to acclimate students to the change, professors have begun rejecting essays with thesis statements. “It is a false supposition,” said Carla Hibou, professor of psychological astronomy, “that everyone has a thesis. In fact, research strongly suggests that many do not.” During lessons, Hibou performs dramatic shreddings of students’ thesis-driven papers. Some students shed tears and leave the room, but eventually they return. “You should just start in a natural place,” she tells her students, “and go from there to a place the reader doesn’t expect. Don’t worry about where you are going. It doesn’t matter. You will get an A if you include at least ten unpredictable sentences and three sound bites. And do mention a star or two.”

She read aloud a paragraph from a model essay. “I was never afraid of bears in childhood, not even real ones. The Ursus Major has nothing to do with bears but is instead our attempt at projecting pictures onto unrelated objects in an attempt to countermand our fear that despite our traditions of form construction we may suffer from incoherent and scattered psychographic reactions to the amplitudinous and disparate universe such as it exists in our consciousness. But we don’t need tales or rules; we need tools.” The students hooted and applauded. “The first and last sentences got the student a major book deal,” Hibou added proudly, as students continued to cheer. “The middle part helped too, as it sounded scholarly.”

By 2015, according to Inchoate Thyme’s predictions, students will stop writing papers altogether. “We can’t wait,” said a professor who requested anonymity. “It isn’t easy to plow through a stack of papers you can’t make head or tail of.”