Einstein said something like this:

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what is an empty desk a sign?

Unfortunately the administration here, in the belief that they are wiser than Einstein, have decided to target two professors in the School of Mathematical Sciences who have cluttered minds.

One of these professors has been threatened with the cancellation of permission for a research visit. The other has been told that the Vice-Principal himself will come and supervise the tidying of his office. (This is the same Vice-Principal that, as I mentioned earlier, says with pride that he acts first and thinks later.)

It seems to me that there is something a bit amiss with the priorities here…

About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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9 Responses to Paper

  1. Ross Templeman says:

    Indeed. From what I recall of my undergraduate maths studies at Queen Mary, the lecturers were frequently visited at their offices by students. Moreover we may assume that students constitute the overwhelming majority of such visitors. Last time I checked students aren’t exactly…….how can I put this delicately…..diligent in their neatness. So who are the administrators trying to impress?

  2. Laurent says:

    I will not debate the nonsense of this situation, but I have good news: It is in fact possible to preserve a well-functioning cluttered mind in a tidy office.
    After all, no Vice-Principal has yet found a way to tidy up minds.

  3. Vice-principals at Queen Mary must have a lot of spare time if they have time for Kafkaesque nonsense like this!

  4. Nigel White says:

    I spent many years of my corporate business life trying to wind up the tidy desk police – it became quite a sport in the end. Once I got the official corporate photographer for the annual review publication to take a very artistic picture through my piles of clutter – which I proudly showed whenever the thought police arrived.

    Is one of the professors they are targetting you, or can’t you say?

    • Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

      Nigel: if you had seen my office, you could probably come to the right conclusion.

      In fact, the administrators are too busy with directives of this sort to read what I write here.

  5. Is it really because they care about tidiness, or is it because the amount of paper around constitutes a fire hazard? I have a small amount of sympathy with the latter complaint (which we get here too) but none with the former.

    • Ironically, they consider papers on the floor to be a trip hazard, whereas in fact my carpet is loose and constitutes a greater trip hazard now that I have uncovered it.

  6. This may be apocryphal, but a story was told about a mathematics professor employed at an institution a few miles away from one where I used to work, whose office was so full of junk that during an inspection it was declared a fire risk by the local Fire Department.

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