Laurie Taylor column

January 26, 2001

Welcome to the first of this term’s staff-graduate seminars. Regrettably, our advertised speaker, Doctor G. R. Clinker, is unable to deliver his paper on global communications because of maintenance work on the Leeds-Doncaster line. But I’m delighted that Doctor Q. T. Rinstead of the department of things at the University of Uttoxeter has agreed to act as his replacement.

Doctor Rinstead’s work on things is well known. His new book, Relatively Small Things , will be published later this year by Harcourt, Brace and Ratchet and promises to be as definitive a work as his earlier volumes Big Things and Medium-Sized Things .

In his presentation, Doctor Rinstead will suggest some ways in which the eclectic nature of his specialism might be remedied by a General Theory of Things . Doctor Rinstead...

Thank you, Professor Lapping. I hope that those of you who are familiar with this area of study will forgive some background detail.

Although one can trace an interest in things back to pre-Socratic times, it is generally agreed that the contemporary approach was initiated by Pierre Busillard in his classic 1970s text Les Choses . Busillard’s starting point was, of course, the famous quotation: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.”

What intrigued Busillard and the Quelque Chose group that formed around him was the failure of critics to inquire into the precise nature of the “more things” instanced by Hamlet.

Busillard’s approach was subsequently adopted by Doctor K. D. Gillespie in his celebrated study of the evanescence of things, Things Ain’t What They Used to Be and further developed in Gordon Dingbat’s controversial evolutionary approach to the topic, Things Can Only Get Better .

Yes, Professor Lapping...

Only a small point, Doctor Rinstead, but several members of the group appear to have left early, and we now seem to be the only people left in the room. I wonder, therefore, if we might wind up the formal part of this seminar and adjourn to the bar to continue the discussion.

Certainly. Will it be all right if I bring my things with me?            

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