The eloquence of your words in speaking truth to power is surpassed only by the virulence of power’s capacity for revenge. Resign now to salvage at least a veneer of respectability, if not your colleagues’ respect.


Your impulse to define colleagues’ prose as tortuous will come back to haunt you when you’re elected to a committee and forced to devise yet another “process” with them. The words insipid drivel and literal will recur on the faculty listserv in various permutations long after you’ve resigned from the university in despair, though their attribution will still be contested and the meaning of literal still understood by a mere handful.


Your claim at the last faculty meeting that Beckett was right—“There is no use indicting words, they’re no shoddier than what they peddle”—is taken by the administration as a sporting challenge rather than as a learned, if perhaps nostalgic commentary on the sad state of affairs on campus about which you wrote with a certain elegiac excess of specificity in the campus newspaper. University counsel has been summoned, and they will, indeed, be indicting words along with those who peddle them—notably, and not surprisingly, yourself, chief among them.


Pynchon was right: if they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t ever have to worry about the answers. Of course, they didn’t have to worry anyway, having infiltrated your Wed., Thurs., and Fri. end-of-the-week happy hours long ago. Read the blurry handwriting on what you take to be the wall, abandon hope of negotiating a separate peace, and surrender now. If you’re lucky, it will just cost you your pension.


Your mistake was to put everything in writing. Now they have a paper trail, and it leads right to your door. Shred while there’s still time.


Your mistake was to put nothing in writing. Now there’s no record of any of it. Not even your desperate, last-ditch attempt to volunteer for the dreaded External Review Committee can save you.


Only after being tackled and pinned to the ground at the faculty meeting while some call campus security and others dial 9-1-1 will you realize you must have said out loud what you had been thinking. Offer to retire early to deflect attention from the Excel spreadsheet in your folder titled, with what you consider elegant simplicity, EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES!


Vonnegut was right: “[Capitalism] is much too hard on the old and the sick and the shy and the poor and the stupid, and on people nobody likes.” Arguably you already fall into at least one of those categories; by the end of the semester, you will fall into five out of six of them. You won’t mind, though, having resumed your addiction to laudanum in a disturbingly sincere if ill-conceived tribute to Coleridge and the Lake District crowd. So it goes.


Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is a mere trifle compared with your Critique of Pure Idiocy, presented at the faculty meeting in response to the Curriculum Council’s proposal. Although it was unclear during hostage negotiations if the violations of “Concealed Carry” were a reaction to your principled stance or if the room would have erupted in gunfire anyway because of the use of PowerPoint, take advantage of the pathetic fallacy weather and bolt at the next tornado warning.


You know your impulse to see both sides of every issue? They’ve finally managed to turn both sides against the middle—that middle where you’ve positioned yourself so seemingly reasonably all these years. Lob that conversation grenade and head for the hills.


This is your unlucky semester. In addition to teaching an intensive writing course, you made the mistake of speaking at a faculty meeting. The goodwill gained with the former was lost irremediably with the latter. As resident pariah, you can now look forward to your colleagues’ contempt, the administration’s manipulations and the Student Senate’s marshaling of support against what they tragically misunderstood was the position you had presented. Tragic, in any event, for the hitherto-innocuous campus squirrel population.


The challenge, which you regard with a kind of wistful, if potentially lethal, sentimentality, will be simultaneously preserving deniability while accounting for that predator drone that appeared somehow under “Miscellaneous Expenses” in your department’s budget at about the same time it appeared somehow in the skies over the business faculty’s “Entrepreneurship Retreat.” As long as the phrase “a pattern of behavior” goes unspoken, you may luck out and have the option of modeling administratively mandated “interdepartmental collegiality”—this time disturbingly with the business faculty, negotiating with them an agreement to destroy the evidence (an agreement you regard, not incidentally, as one of the pinnacle achievements of your fiction-writing career).