Nunc Id Vides, Nunc Ne Vides

This is a post by guest blogger Ellen Bulger.

Nunc Id Vides, Nunc Ne Vides, the Way Things REALLY Work

First thought: Nanny Ogg at a frat party. Scumble Jell-O shots. Nuff said.

There have always been feminists on the Discworld; they call themselves witches. The entrenched academic establishment is male and less-than-admirable, if highly entertaining. Pratchett takes a dim view of faculty, but has a lot of respect for his witches. Pragmatic, hardworking and socially-responsible, these gals are decidedly M+ (Magic Plus).

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of impact they’d have on the premier institution of higher learning in Ankh-Morpork, you are not alone. The staff and students of Trinity College in Dublin have scheduled a debate:

That This House Would See Unseen University Run by Witches

Terry Pratchett’s fans know that science-based technology is problematic in the Discworld universe. There’s no sense teaching STEM subjects at Unseen University. AHEM subjects are more to the point:Alchemy, Headology, Eating (the cheese cart!) and Magic. And if you are going to really teach headology, you need its foremost practitioner, you need the inimitable Granny Weatherwax.

It’s hard to imagine Esme Weatherwax at Unseen University. She does not suffer fools gladly or at all, especially pompous ones. If she found herself at U.U., the only thing that would keep her there would be her powerful sense of social responsibility. Granny would not be popular at first, maybe never with the majority. She’d make the other faculty anxious and resentful because she’d make the slackers and the incompetents look really bad. And the students at U.U. who had never pushed themselves would hate her, at first. But some of them would come around, if only years later, when they realized that the most challenging professor they ever had was also the most generous. The luckiest students would be the ones who threw themselves into the work. And Granny being Granny, no one would work harder than she. Tenure committees would tremble in fear lest she decide that their university was not worthy of her time. And NO ONE would be harder on Esme than she would be on herself. Well, no one would dare.

I keep visualizing Tiffany Aching as a struggling graduate student, putting in the hard work and long hours towards her Witchorate. I suspect that whatever universe you are in, from Bas Lag to Middle Earth, being a grad student remains maddeningly sisyphean. Some things transcend time and space. On the Discworld, at least, we can assume that U.U. will be funded and that Tiffany won’t find her scant funding cut. Vetinari is no fool and he understands the importance of higher education. Granted, Ankh-Morpork is no paradise and there are plenty of Tea Party equivalents and no shortage of monsters. But should a Zomney appear with a bottomless appetite for brainz, I think we can count on Sam Vimes to pick up where his grandfather left off.

Nunc Id Vides, Nunc Ne Vides