After 17 arduous years, the Committee to Reduce Committee Work was having a tough time of it. Originally scheduled to meet for only three years, at the end of which committee work reduction was projected to be fully completed, the Committee’s task was incessantly extended and expanded.
The Committee was actually three sub-committees, one focused on reducing the number of different committees, one on the size of committees and number of meetings, and one on reducing the length and redundancy of individual meetings. After the seventh year, a fourth sub-committee had been added to better integrate the work of the three subcommittees and after the eleventh year a fifth, to investigate why the other four subcommittees were unable to complete their work and why, instead, they seemed to fall ever further behind. The unified bi-weekly meeting of all five sub-committees (which had originally been twice a year, then bi-monthly, then monthly) had recently been discussing adding a temporary special sub-committee to investigate why the fifth sub-committee appeared to be failing in their work, although the head of the fifth sub-committee insisted that it was making excellent progress before breaking down in tears and admitting that it was failing.
The Committee’s work cannot appropriately be described as Sisyphean, because Sisyphus had a relatively simple goal that remained the same from day to day, whereas the task of the Committee to Reduce Committee Work grows from day to day and year to year. It is as though the mountain the Committee seeks to ascend becomes progressively larger and the rock it attempts to push upward not only splits into multiple parts, each demanding attention, but every individual rock grows in size like a living -- although obdurate and inanimate -- being. Nor is “Byzantium” a good analogy, since the Byzantium empire lasted only a thousand years, while the Committee to Reduce Committee Work appears likely to last as long as humanity (or even longer if other intelligent species exist in the universe and engage in committee work).