A distinguished former colleague of mine—all my former colleagues are distinguished, ex officio so to speak—received an e-mail from someone in the administration who called herself Trudy, though, never having been introduced to her, he had no idea who Trudy was, informing him that he had completed an annual form a week late, and admonishing him because of it.
The form, of course, partook of the essential quality of most forms, that is to say of being pro forma, which in turn is to say that the purpose of the form was to be filled rather than to provide anyone with information that might be useful to him or her. It was, again like most forms, immediately filed without first having been read, a bit like those immigration forms to the United States that asked you whether you had ever committed genocide (after the downfall of the Soviet Union, genocide replaced communism as the object of moral inquiry).
According to our records your form was not completed on time and resulted in escalation of your overdue form.
Please note as you have previously been in the escalation process if your form is not completed on time you will automatically be asked to meet with your Director to discuss.
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One can only hope that Buffon was wrong when he said that the style is the man himself, or in this case the woman herself; for what kind of person would the above style suggest?
Trudy writes of “escalation” as if it were something as devoid of human agency as the eruption of Krakatoa. No human hand has touched the “escalation process” and therefore, of course, no human being can…