Vag scratched the back of his head and started thinking. He always used to think about what puzzled him, though the little that came out of it puzzled him still more. At present, Vag was bothered about the examination; and so he thought about them.
Vag started methodically. There are two kinds of students, he figured. There are those who work, and there are those who don't. Those who work know their stiff and don't learn anything from examinations. Those who don't work cram in the last minute and exhale their knowledge in a heavy sigh after the ordeal is over. Ergo; it can't be the students who gain anything from examinations. They just take and excrete them like castor oil.
Vag wondered for whom examinations could have been invented if not for the students. The faculty? Of course the faculty had to deal out grades; and grades were based on examinations. Vag wistfully remembered how he got an E for an upset stomach and an A for his flexible wrist. Shuddering, he pictured the dim Victorian Gothic church in which he had squatted tensely over his bluebook, too paralyzed to think, trusting implicitly his flying hand to remember what had evaporated within his brain. No, Vag decided energetically, if examinations and grades are bedfellows, let us chuck them both.
But he knew only too well that examinations could be chucked just as easily as the Himalayas. He had to acknowledge that their uselessness was indispensable. The paradox was indigestible--but people swallowed it every day, and it seemed with ease.
Vag ruminated disconsolately when suddenly he bit on a grain that smacked like truth. He reclined and closed his eyes: then he knew. Examinations served neither students nor faculty but the College. Like the machine, the College had once been an instrument to an end and was now the end itself. It had outgrown its maker and enslaved him. Those whom It was to serve, now served It. The College was an inscrutable power, an emancipated will, beyond human control. It exerted, Its might through Its policemen, the examinations.
Vag knew--and was paralyzed. He could not see the sense of it. And like all people who cannot see the sense of it, he kept on staring into space. Finally, one morning, he heard bells ringing. He grabbed a book and thumbed it, feverishly. Too late. . . .
Judgment time had come, and Vag was called upon to settle accounts with the College. The bells sang ironically into his ears: MEMORIZE BUT DO NOT THINK.