Betsy Newmark notes that writer Stephen Budiansky is attempting to craft a satiric novel “about a university prostituting itself to bump up its U.S. News and World Report rankings. But he keeps finding his ideas being stolen by real universities”.
Betsy writes, “It’s rather pitiful when the reality exceeds possible satire”. But that’s the very definition of Muggeridge’s Law, which Budiansky is finding himself running straight into.
Stanley Kubrick’s classic Dr. Strangelove was originally going to be a straight Cold War thriller, but, “As I kept trying to imagine the way in which things would really happen, ideas kept coming to me which I would discard because they were so ludicrous”, he once told an interviewer. “I kept saying to myself: ‘I can’t do this. People will laugh.'” Eventually, he felt forced to adopt the wild satiric tone that made the film timeless.
In contrast, these days, it’s virtually impossible to write about higher education without making readers laugh at its near-universal absurdities.