Today, amidst a large crowd of fresh-faced hopefuls, top officials at the United Intelligence Agency (UIA) announced the annual winner of their rather unknown, nationwide contest dubbed, rather circum-loquaciously, "The Award for Best Paper in Aristotelian Achievement: Specifically, The Greatest Achievement in a Sarcastic Paper About Meta-Stuff." The award serves to commemorate the passing of the famous Greek thinker Plato, as well as to bestow a healthy cash stipend to a kinda-promising, kinda-young college senior.
For the past 83 years this honor has been reserved for philosophy majors. The difference this year? Officials decided to spice it up and invite Creative Writing majors to swim in the applicant pool.
"We felt that it wasn't much of a stretch," William Williams, a top official at the UIA said, commenting that generally both types are known for their berets, frequent coffee shop attendance, and general pseudo-intellectualism. "The other top officials and I have agreed," Williams said, "[creative writers] could bullshit meta-stuff just as well as philosophers. All stuff is meta-stuff. See? There. I was being meta. It's as easy as that. But they're kids, you know. They don't know anything. So, yeah. We let them take a stab at the $450,000."
We toss a few blindfolded donkeys into a pen beside the papers. The last paper to remain uneaten is our winner. Every year, as the parchment is unlocked and brave little eyes twinkle with thoughts of new libraries or new berets or trips to Europe where they'll get high in Amsterdam for a few days and forget everything else, students generally forget how the UIA actually operates. "We've
got some smooth bureaucratic mechanisms. There's actually an intricate process behind all the glitz and glamour," said Saller Sallyson, another top official at the UIA. "We receive thousands of papers. We have to sort through every bad English 101 paper first. Then we just sort of grade like professors. We read the first two sentences and decide on the paper's inherent worth. They could write words like ‘fucking' right in the first couple paragraphs, and especially if it's a particularly boring paper, we just wouldn't ever know!"
The UIA's team of top officials then select 1% of these initial manuscripts to move on to the next round. "Ah, round two. It consists of a fucking TON of shit." Sallyson explained. Upon further questioning, Sallyson admitted, "Well first, we hang up all the manuscripts on a clothesline and string it across my backyard. We're all pretty drunk so it takes quite a while, you know. Well, when that's done we toss a few blindfolded donkeys into a pen beside the papers. I've got a big fucking yard. Anyway, we starve the donkeys. Get ‘em nice and hungry. Then, we wheel down the papers on the clothesline, and in a few minutes they'll eventually gobble them up, one by one. They're so hungry! Haha. Anyway, the last paper to remain uneaten is our winner."
"Tastes like a winner!"When asked about her feelings regarding the seemingly enigmatic means of deciding the recipient of such a large sum of money (as many critics have vocally lamented in reputable journals such as Malay's Quarterly), Sallyson said, "We told them [Malay's] that we prefer the word ‘mercurial.' … You know, we essentially just let fucking God decide. And that's pretty goddamned meta too, isn't it?"
When asked why the donkey had to be blindfolded, Salleyson refused further comment.
After all was said and eaten today, Creative Writing major J.W. Emerson took home the coveted Risty, as well as the more-coveted, normal-sized check with six big fucking digits on it. "I guess I was just lucky enough to use lower-grade, more-bitter-smelling paper," JW said, waving his arms, his hands turning to rather distasteful gestures. "But sure, I guess I'm kind of the shit now," he added.
His paper, "Student Writes Best Sarcastic Meta-Paper, About Meta-Stuff: Dear Philosophy Professor, Your Prompt Was Fucking Boring and Stupid," claimed the hearts and minds of many of UIA's top officials (though, somewhat more importantly, not the blunt foreteeth of its top hungry donkeys) and the enormous cash prize. After much gloating, Emerson took what the UIA calls "thank you time" to read the paper in its entirety to the disheartened audience. Some highlights:
- "Sure this paper sounds swell. How about I don't rehash all the stupid bullshit you said in class?" the paper said. "It's going to be three pages, not five."
- "I'm not working on it in class, right now. Ten minutes before its due."
- "I'm taking notes."
- "Does this go towards my major?"
- "This class is not the most boring activity I've ever been a part of."
- And its gripping conclusion, "Are not all papers—even this one—ABOUT meta-stuff? I'll let you decide."
And, in this writer's experience—at least now that I've been to the UIA conference—that's probably true. Are not all papers—even this one—ABOUT meta-papers? I'll let you decide.