C.S. Lewis on Today’s College Administrators

C.S. Lewis drew a perfect portrait of the modern college administrator in his terrific 1946 novel That Hideous Strength, which I consider to be the very best of mid-century anti-utopian literature, superior even to Orwell. There he draws a bead on Wither, the deputy director of NICE, which stands for the “National Institute of Coordinated Experiments.” NICE is housed on a college campus, naturally.

I particularly enjoy this passage describing Wither:

What had been in his far-off youth a merely aesthetic repugnance to realities that were crude or vulgar, had deepened and darkened, year after year, into a fixed refusal of everything that was in any degree other than himself. He had passed from Hegel into Hume, thence through Pragmatism, and thence through Logical Positivism, and out at last into the complete void.

Even better is this passage, where Withers appears to the novel’s protagonist as if a ghost:

Or it may, after all, be that souls who have lost the intellectual good do indeed receive in return, and for a short period, the vain privilege of thus reproducing themselves in many places as wraiths.

Or today reproducing themselves as deans of diversity. Who do indeed seem very wraithlike.