The rooms are neither as dusty, nor as bald of sound, as one might imagine the cloisters of the Oxford English Dictionary. There are no books piled in the cracked tile hallways, no atmospheric beams of light angling into the tranquil gloom. No old clunking timepiece marks the infinitude of time.
Yet this place--and those who study within it--are older than most of us can imagine. Today they were gathered, as they are but once a year, in solemn manifestation of their immortal calling. In the cloisters' largest and deepest chamber, the Council of New Words assembled to determine what coinages should enter The Dictionary. Seated in neat semicircular rows, they gazed at a television, placed where the speaker's lectern usually stood.
The video recording was short, perhaps a minute long, played in an endless loop. But they stared for hours, speechless, transfixed. A hundred faces lit by the cold, flickering phosphors of metamodernity. A leering tongue. A gyrating arse.
Some were horrified by what they saw. Some were enchanted. Others studied it impassively. Many felt the fleeting impression of Change, the heart of their calling, that which disturbs the will of Ankou. And all of them--the youngest among them celebrated her 146th birthday in July--were wise.
When the vote was called, there was only a single abstention.