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Grockels – EA Vol. XXII


Encyclopaedia Avalonia, Vol. XXII …

Editor’s note: Grockels are not a tribe of Avalonia. But despite this handicap they have been graciously afforded an entry in the Encyclopaedia Avalonia since they are, on special occasions, allowed to cross the borders of Avalonia for short visits.

According to the department of mytho-linguistics at the University of Avalon, ‘grockels’ is a West Country term derived from the verb “to grok” (as coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his 1961 science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land) … meaning “to know or understand in a deeply existentialist or quintessential fashion”.

“Grok-less” of course means the opposite: to be without the faintest grok – i.e. pig ignorant. And over the years, “grok-less” has been corrupted – or “etymologically perverted” as they prefer to say at the University – by the peculiarities of Devonian dialect (and spelling) into “grok-els” or “grockels”. It is now applied almost exclusively to tourists and holiday-makers, as these are deemed the epitome of those-who-do-not-grok … otherwise, goes the reasoning, they would actually be living in the West Country and not just wandering around for a piddling couple of weeks like lost Exmoor sheep.

There is a rival explanation, however, and funnily enough this also likens tourists to sheep – sheep whose sole destiny is to be herded together and shorn of their woolly fleeces as quickly as possible. Hence the phrases “fleecing the tourist” and “clip-joint”.

As for the linguistic and semantic processes that have supposedly led from this to the word “grockels”, they rest on a series of labyrinthine arguments involving, for example, the quest of Jason & the Argonauts, ancient Greek alphabets and the alleged arrival of the legendary figure of Brutus the Trojan, after the fall of Troy, in the Devon town of Totnes.

However, the detail of these arguments need not concern us here (nor thankfully anywhere else). We should merely note that critics of this rival theory – who are mostly tenured at the University of Avalon – describe it as “mutton dressed up as lamb”. They admit that the term “fleecy grockels” is used in certain obscure corners of the region, but answer this fact by riposting, “so bloody what!”

The University of Avalon – EA Vol. XV


Encyclopaedia Avalonia Vol. XV …

Some may think that a University is a large, government-recognised, higher education establishment, such as exists in Oxford or Cambridge. Such people may even be willing to swallow hard and accept into academic sisterhood the grandly-named University of the West of England … even though it was formerly just plain old Bristol Polytechnic. However, even such liberals baulk at extending a similar latitude to the University of Avalon (UoA), whose curricula bears no known resemblance to standard areas of study such as Mathematics, Geography or Chemistry … nor even to the somewhat suspect subject of Botany.

It is therefore all the more gratifying to UoA staff and students alike that their establishment was once the only listing under “Universities” in Thompson’s Directory phone book for the Somerset coastal area. Soon after this public relations coup – and it may be just coincidence – a part-time telephonist from Burnham-on Sea was appointed Professor of Terran Communications in the UoA’s Faculty of Epistemological Phenomenology.

Critics of the UoA, of which there are many, especially in Bristol, are scorned as illiterates by Avalonian academics. And with good reason, for the word “university” comes from the latin universus, meaning “turned into one (with the cosmos or universe)”.

On this basis the University of Avalon has every right to the high status of its name, since becoming one with the cosmos is the great ambition of all its students. Indeed, no one graduates from the University unless they have first achieved a measure a degree of success in this quest.

As to what constitutes the required measure of “oneness”, this is a topic of heated debate across the dreaming spires of Avalonia. The result is that no one so far has actually graduated – or at least no one retaining a sufficient grasp of mundane reality to tell the tale. The effect on the University’s post-graduate programme has been catastrophic. With no post-grads to teach, only the M.Sc. course in Zen & the Art of Fire-Raising has survived the axe, and even this has no tutor as such, but simply a mysterious facilitator known only as “the guiding light”.


Elementary Time Travel – EA. Vol. XXIII

Time travel

Encyclopaedia Avalonia, Vol. XXIII …

The Reading Organisation for Research into Elementary Time Travel (R.O.R.E.T.T) is attached to the Faculty of Parapsychology in the University of Avalon (UoA). It is the only UoA-affiliated organisation to issue exam-results in advance of the actual exams, depressing though this is for some of the students.

In R.O.R.E.T.T’s own words, their research involves: “… the study of Precognition .. its practical uses for political purposes …”

Needless to say this research has attracted the attentions of MI5 and the like, particularly since the very existence of Avalonia is a politically sensitive issue for the UK government. However, all attempts to infiltrate R.O.R.E.T.T have so far failed, since the identity of the would-be infiltrators is known to members “ahead of time” as it were (or will be), before the agents themselves have even been chosen … and in one case even before the agent had been born.

The security services have struggled in vain to resolve this paradox, in one instance even lying to themselves about their own agent’s true identity in a desperate attempt to circumvent precognition. This might have worked, except that when the agent in question attempted to contact his masters they refused to accept his credentials, charged him with impersonating a government official and filed his report under “Deliberate Misinformation”.

R.O.R.E.T.T’s occasional seminars on “Psychic Ecology” are sought after with particular eagerness, with competition for places being especially keen amongst far-sighted environmentalists and visionary Greens. Indeed, seminar places are reserved so far ahead of any advance publicity that the seminar leader has given up actually choosing the seminar dates herself and merely goes along with the inevitable.

R.O.R.E.T.T has a sister organisation called R.O.R.A.T.T (the Reading Organisation for Research into Advanced Time Travel), but of this we do not now write further for reasons that will always have been obvious to some.

R.O.R.A.T.T members – and you know who you are, or know who you will be – can appreciate the subtle rationale for this discretion. Anyone else wishing to know more will need to enrol with R.O.R.E.T.T in the first instance (and R.O.R.A.T.T in the second instance), or else read the appropriate entries in Vol. XXIV of the Encyclopaedia Avalonia, should this ever be published.

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