Monday, 27 February 2012

The Hunting of the PhDark

And so the journey continues in the realms created by Carroll's mind, where a dream sometimes is a game of chess, but a cigar is only a cigar. This time, however, our heroes have found the Snark, hunted it, got the fruit (1), and got bored of it. So they decided to hunt the PhDark.

The PhDark is a creature of dusty corners of libraries and rotting walls of academia; it builds its nest in leather armchairs and wooden desks; it will usually capture its prey, tease it for a three-year period, then torture it for a fourth, with the illusion of it all finally being over.

The PhDark is hard to hunt, for it is guarded by the dreadful BureauCat. The BureauCat at first appears to help our heroes, but eventually reveals its true colours, and they get lost in a maze of strange forms and twists and turns of phrase, and the party gets nearly stamped on. The BureauCat strokes its whiskers, as it gleefully observes the hunting party lose itself in its web of apparent truths and white lies. But little does the BureauCat know that our heroes are being helped by external forces, in their hunt for the PhDark.

The PhDark is a multi-headed beast, of gargantuan proportions from afar, and just huge from close up. It has the Hydra's property of replacing each severed head with at least seven more, just to keep it biblical. It has eyes of ink, and hide of leather, and its spine is as sharp and lethal as a papercut.

The PhDark is a luring, seducing, tempting beast, especially for our heroes. The reward is high, the tools they have been promised are of the highest quality, the best that gold can buy... But they lack the gold. But they've been promised gold! (2) They will acquire the means to their end, one way or another. The Ring-giver told them so.

The PhDark is an elusive beast. It prefers to attack several victims at once, but from a distance. Many try to find a PhDark, some just for the fame, some for its properties, others out of boredom. In the end, the PhDark will choose its champion amongst the throng of hunters. The BureauCat aids it in its choice; appease it, and you may have a chance. The Ring-giver is also its ally, albeit reluctantly; gain its trust, and your quest will run smoothly.

The PhDark is a curious beast. If you are chosen, you will face it in its lair, and the hunting party will dissolve. Your dance will begin, just the two of you. But be warned: the road to the PhDark is still long, even if the BureauCat is satiated, and the Ring-giver has donated. Good luck.

So yeah, applied for a PhD, won't know anything until April.

1 - In Italy, Fruits of the Loom has been for a long time the major brand of t-shirts. This lead to the use of the word fruit to indicate any generic t-shirt.
2 - Until stocks last. Terms & Conditions apply.

Alex Valente translates Italian and French into English, and English into Italian. He claims he also works with Old English and Latin. In the little spare time his MA in Literary Translation leaves him, he dumps some poetic reflections onto (where the Jabberwocky now resides, too). If you really feel the urge to talk to him, you can find him at

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