Idempotent Erudite Pastiche


An “idempotent erudite pastiche” is a published work that is isomorphic with “ultimate academic self-parody” through a pseudo-invertible non-linear transformation called “academic peer review.”

“Pastiche” refers to a work that imitates the style of another, often intended as a parody.

“Erudite” is the word scholars use when referring to themselves when anyone with half a brain can see that they are either idiots or twits.

“Idempotent” refers to something that remains unchanged in value when operated upon by itself. For example, the number 1 is idempotent when operated on by multiplication because 1 times 1 = 1.

“Academic peer review” is an operation by which so-called scholars pass around a simple expression of something that is either: A) Blindingly Obvious, or B) False, and then transform it repeatedly until it becomes: A) Unintelligible, and B) incapable of being made More Unintelligible.

For example, through academic peer review, the phrase, “Don’t think your shit don’t stink” becomes a Ph. D. thesis called “The Ill-Advisedness of Denying the Null Hypothesis When Confronting Right-Skewed Olfactory Impact Magnitudes of E. Coli and Other Hominid Intestinal Flora Byproducts.”

“Pseudo-invertible” means that although a process looks like it can be reversed, it can’t. It would be nice if something translated from plain-speak into academic gobbledygook could be translated back, but it has never be done. (That is the whole premise behind GREs… Read some bullshit written by an academic and decide which of four simple sentences best expresses what s/he was trying to say. Good luck with that.)

Note: “Invertible” is to “Pseudo-Invertible” as “Screwed” is to “Fucked” because you can Unscrew something but you can’t Unfuck it.

“Linear” means from one place to another via a straight path. When the domain under investigation includes academic works this is a concept that exists in theory only.

The phase was born when a peer reviewer came upon a work so bloated and indecipherable that if it was a parody of itself it could not be improved upon. Not wanting to say that to the author directly the reviewer asked his peers to suggest a more bloated and indecipherable way of saying the same thing, and after a few passes through the system, “idempotent erudite pastiche” was born.


Sal: I read On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurter. He begins: “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share.” The whole rest of the book is his contribution; a colossal pile of bullshit.

Val: Yea, I read it too. It’s a real idempotent erudite pastiche.