This memo comes from our dear friend, Eustacia VanDerberg-Vanderburg, PhD who is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Wisconsin University-Fondue University Wisconsin (WUFUW). 



A variant of this memo has also appeared in the
Journal of Irreproducible Results

   to: faculty
    fr: Eustacia VanDerberg-Vanderburg, PhD
    re: The Department of Nothing

I've been asked by the Special Assistant to the Dean of the School of Special Assistants to consider the development of a Department of Nothingness. This department would be under the auspices of the Dean of Auspices. The Dean of the School of What's Happening Now has determined through extensive meta-analytic cross-cultural that an emerging trend in higher education is a higher sense of apathy that has metastasized into a concern for nothing. Hence, we are charging forth on the rrragged edge of academe by starting the first "Department of Nothingness".

A quick survey of on-line university catalogues revealed that no other program in the US, and only one program in the world, (at the University of Stockholm in the Kierkegaard School of Nihilism) offers even a course in Nothing.

The core issue here is whether it should be our intent from the outset to develop what would be the literally figurative jewel in the crown of WUFUW, or whether our intent would be to hold fidelity to the nothingness of Nothing. Essentially, the concern here is whether we should have the department reflect its subject matter and therefore have no curriculum, no faculty and no students; or eschew such parallelism in the departmental structure and its subject matter.

We can find, of course parallel and nonparallel models in academe. The truest proponent of the parallel model is of course our own Psychology Department in which we staunchly hold that a department that studies human behavior should consist of humans; hence the parallelism between the department's 100% Homo Sapien staff and its curriculum. (Arguably, such was not the case until the recent retirement of Dr. Scrudges).

On the other hand, although Biology is often referred to as a Department of Dead Wood, and the Anthropology Department is patently calcified, there are certain exceptions to the "Physician heal thyself, Psychologist study thyself, Auld English Professuer speake to thyself in Celtic/Germanic toungee" model. Crash test dummies do not roam the halls of the Department of Engineering; Quarks, neutrinos and baryon particles do not teach in the Department of Physics and Everybody Else is Wrong. Hence, after numerous committee meetings we have developed the following models.

Model Zero:                             ,                       ,                                    .
             .                             ;                    ,         !

Model Zero is the pure model in that it is a nonmodel. It is the default model, as it already exists, which is the same as to say it already doesn't exist. This model is purely parallel and purely nonparallel.

Model A:
A "Department of Nothing" should be formed. It should be listed in the University Course Bulletin between the "Department Menial Jobs for Baccalaureates"and the "Department of Skinks, Weasles and State Legislators." It will have no faculty, no secretarial staff, no curriculum, no admission standards, no waiting in long lines to sign up for courses, no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks. A dean and two assistant deans should be sufficient to run the program.

Model B:
A "Department of Nothing and Next to Nothing" should be formed. Same as Model A, but with the addition of a part-time secretary.


Model C {the so-called "Full-blown Nothing" model}:
The "Nothing Department" would consist of numerous secretaries, fax machines, boxes of chalk, chalkholders, chalkboard-chalkholder holders, chalkboard-chalkholder-holders chalkdust miniventilation systems, those dimpled rubber finger-tip things that you can use for collating, those heavy-duty staplers that can staple like a 700-page document together though you'd better forget about trying to unstaple it unless you've got a serious pair of wire clippers, forms to requisition that the physical plant not set the air conditioning to 52 degrees or provide space heaters to keep it warm during the summer, "Dr. Smith's (trademark) paper-cut suture kit", dweedlers, extractors, tachistoscopes, and, yes, a serious pair of wire clippers. The details concerning the number of faculty would be left to the "School of Details Rectification."

Suggested course titles:

Intro to No, Not, Nothing, Never, Nobody, Nohow, Negativity.

Why do Most Negative Words Begin with the Letter "N", and is this in some Peculiar Way Related to the Fact that Most Words that Refer to the Middle (Such as Mean, Median, Mode, Middlemost, Middling, Meridian) Begin with the Letter "M," which is the Middle Letter in the Alphabet?

Is 7-up Really the Uncola?

War, What is it Good for? Absolutely Nothing? You Decide!

Is there Anything besides Nothing and Everything?

Solution to the Zen Koan, "What is Nothing?"

Solution to the Yogi Berra Koan "Nobody goes to that Restaurant anymore, it's too Crowded."

Beachcombing with a Metal Detector--People with Nothing but Time to Kill? You Decide!

Please, no more... send me to the main menu