Chapter 206: Thesis

Exchange programme? It was as though the fire in Qin Ye’s heart had been doused with ice, and he sighed with disappointment, “We’re the First Academy of Cultivators… Mr Gu, given your status, you should know a thing or two about the Special Investigations Department. Who would we have such exchange interactions with?”

“No, no, no.” Gu Qing’s eyes gleamed craftily as he smiled, “That’s just an example. Exchange programme, professional seminars, academic exchange forum… Regardless of what kind of school you are, you would necessarily be involved in at least one of them! As long as you can do well enough, you’ll definitely be given the opportunity to participate in one of these!”

Qin Ye’s eyes instantly lit up.

Oh damn! There’s hope yet!

But… isn’t the difference in opportunities between a top student and the bottom of the class a little too wide?

Nevertheless, his thoughts began to flow down the new path that had opened - That’s right… an exchange. The First Academy of Cultivators might not have any exchange programmes with other universities, but they would most certainly have some form of exchange or interactions with the rest of the cultivation world!

The First Academy of Cultivators may be disconnected from society, but they would never be sequestered from the cultivation world!

Tao Ran must know about these things! External communications are part of the professors’ scope of responsibilities after all!

Qin Ye was already resigned to the fate of leaving the city only in September. Therefore, Gu Qing’s current suggestion introduced an abrupt yet pleasantly surprising turn of events, “Mr Gu, what are the requirements required to participate in such exchanges?”

Gu Qing smiled like a crafty old fox, “One of the simplest ways to do so is… to publish a thesis paper.”

“As long as you’re able to get a paper published, you’ll naturally be qualified to participate in such exchanges. The only question is whether you’ve got a good topic to discuss and explore. And it doesn’t have to be too good at that. All you need is just a whole bunch of plausible and defensible bullshit that you can pull off.”

Is this really a good way to talk about the pursuit of knowledge… cough cough… Tsk… academics… It’s disgusting to employ such tried and tested methods!

Of course I’ve got a good topic!

Distinguished Fellow Yu, I’m going to give you yet another good showing!

“Is that even possible?” Arthis was also flabbergasted by the suggestion. It would essentially allow them to travel out of the city in a completely open and aboveboard manner! It was like a door that was right in front of their faces, and yet a Judge’s and a Hellguard’s crooked manner of thought caused them to assume it was locked, and thus think of various means of circumventing it, ranging from creative solutions to backdoors. Yet the solution was right in front of their eyes all this while - all they needed to do was to turn the knob and open the door!

Arrrghhh… Is this what an elite school student is like? Is this what a gifted talent is like? Why does this man exude such intelligence? Arthis and Qin Ye couldn’t help but shrink back from Gu Qing’s intimidating display of wisdom.

Dirty… It’s truly a dirty method!

In fact, it was so dirty that Qin Ye wanted to leave as quickly as possible. He coughed softly, “I understand. I’ll relay the dream for you as soon as I’ve got the time.”

Then, he instantly vanished in the next second.

This was a suppression of IQ. Under the domineering radiance of Gu Qing’s immeasurable intellect, Qin Ye and Arthis were no more than maggots. Even as they arrived back in Qin Ye’s dorm room, Arthis continued to mull over their earlier exchange, “The learned… no wonder the world had always been ruled by the learned. Their tactics are completely disgusting. We can’t afford to cross them. Ever. Come to think of it, haven’t you been through college several times by now? Why is there such a large chasm between your intellect and his?”

“Do you believe it when I say I’ll smear shit all over your face?! You talk like you were the one who came up with the idea to begin with!” Qin Ye rolled his eyes as he barked back at Arthis.

“... Ah, what distinguished flavour your rebuttal has… It’s so flawless that there’s just no room for a rejoinder…”

Qin Ye couldn’t be bothered to deal with Arthis. Instead, he fluttered to Tao Ran’s office like a butterfly, filled with joy and elation. Tao Ran’s eyelids twitched uncontrollably as soon as he saw the peculiar expression on Qin Ye’s face.

“Professor Tao.” Qin Ye sat down with a wide grin on his face, “Can I ask you something?”

Tao Ran suddenly got the feeling as though he were a piece of meat on a bone that had just been targeted by a hungry, wild dog. Wondering whether it was an illusion, he adjusted his glasses and scrutinized Qin Ye’s expressions for a little while before finally responding, “If you’re up to no good… then I’d rather not hear it.”

Eh? This old man’s intuition is pretty sharp, isn’t it? Qin Ye blinked several times, “Does the academy have any opportunities to participate in academic forums or exchange programmes?”

Was I wrong?

Tao Ran adjusted his glasses again. No… I could’ve sworn I felt the deep malice of the world engulfing me for an instant there. But why does his question sound so open and aboveboard… I guess I’m really getting old…

Nevertheless, he was still reticent to respond to Qin Ye’s query. His intuition told him there was more than meets the eye. Therefore, he propped up his glasses once more… One more time… It still doesn’t feel right… one more time…

Qin Ye blinked at Tao Ran with puppy eyes and prompted him, “Professor Tao, you would never dash an instructor’s ambitions and dreams, would you?”

But that depends on whether you’re an upright person with proper dreams to begin with. You’re undeniably a talent, but I’ve never seen you offer yourself up for an assignment before… Tao Ran’s lips twitched, and then he sighed, “There are.”

“But not now.”

“Why?” Qin Ye grew displeased. Is it because I’m not handsome enough or strong enough? Or should I frighten you with the might of an Anitya Hellguard, right here, right now? <angry face emoticon>

Tao Ran opened the drawer beside him and pulled out a stack of documents, “These are the exchange requests sent by various organizations since the commencement of this semester. However, we’ve not agreed to a single one just yet.”

So many… Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed brightly. But before he could say anything else, Tao Ran pushed the stack of documents towards him, “Take a look for yourself.”

Qin Ye flipped through the documents and read them, “The New Generation of Cathayan Cultivators? Southeast District Cultivator Trials? Secrets of Little Paradise Forum?”

“Is there anything wrong with these?”

“Of course there is.” Tao Ran took a sip of tea, “Firstly, we’re the First Academy of Cultivators. We’re a school. And the primary focus of every school is knowledge, and not abilities. This doesn’t mean that the display of our abilities isn’t important. It’s just that it’s not our focus for now.”

He pointed to one of the information sheets, “Look, these are all invitations to compare the strength of the younger generation. Who’s going to represent us? It’s naturally not going to be the professors nor Faculty Head Zhou. Otherwise, everyone’s going to complain that we’re bullying them. Instructors are out of the question as well. After all, which organization out there isn’t aware that our instructors are all elites gathered from different parts of the nation?”

Qin Ye got the gist of it, “So the only ones who would be able to represent the academy would be the freshmen?”

Tao Ran nodded, “But how long has it been since the commencement of the semester? We’ve not even finished our syllabus on theory just yet. These organizations are simply attempting to ride on the fame and reputation of the First Academy of Cultivators and use us as springboards… How can we give them such an opportunity to do so?”

Tao Ran snorted, “Therefore, the only ones we can participate in right now would be limited to those relating to the exchange of discourse and knowledge. But do you see any relating to these in our list of invitations?”

Qin Ye blinked and pulled out a piece of paper and shook it about. The sheet of information clearly stated - “Invitation to Professor Tao Ran to the Yin Spirit Classifications Discussion Forum on 9th May at Yan Capital.”

Tao Ran glanced at it dismissively, “That’s an invitation to me personally.”

Qin Ye flipped through the rest of the stack and discovered that… there was truly none.

Not a single one was addressed to the First Academy of Cultivators for the purposes of a knowledge-based discussion or exchange.

Tao Ran slowly lit a cigarette, “Just because the instructors and professors are famous and reputable doesn’t mean that the academy is the same. The academy’s reputation lies in the papers that have been published by it. Unfortunately, having only been established just a few months back, how could we possibly already have something to show for our research? Who could possibly publish a paper on Cultivators Weekly? Next to the major Yin spirit research units that have existed since ages ago, the First Academy of Cultivators is nothing more than an infant.”

Qin Ye deftly caught the implications of what Tao Ran’s spiel, and he probed further, “Then… does that mean that the academy isn’t preventing instructors from carrying out their own research?”

That’s a pothole… Tao Ran squinted. It feels like I’m walking along a winding path down a countryside road, and there are potholes everywhere…

“You’re thinking of embarking on a research topic?”

Qin Ye nodded enthusiastically.

Tao Ran’s eyes were filled with disbelief - the same kind of disbelief that he had when he first discovered the products of Anerle, Whispers and Triumph hidden in the recesses of Qin Ye’s room. After much deliberation, he finally continued, “By right… the academy should render you its fullest support…”

Qin Ye coughed softly, as though frantically hinting - Can you just tell me whether I can or cannot?!

“But!” Tao Ran glared at him and snuffed out his cigarette, “Every research project must be approved and backed by a faculty professor and registered under the academy’s name. Little Qin, if you can really get it done, there will naturally be immense benefits to you. But have you thought of the converse? Every single instructor in the academy is focused on learning right now. You’ll be the only one embarking on a research project. Have you thought about how the other instructors would view you if you don’t succeed in your endeavours?”

Qin Ye looked up at Tao Ran in surprise.

This was an overflowing display of protective love. As a professor of his faculty, Tao Ran would naturally have a large piece of the pie if Qin Ye’s research was successful. But rather than revel in the thought of accruing merits for himself, the first thing that crossed Tao Ran’s mind was instead to protect Qin Ye’s image.

Hang on… is my image among other instructors really that poor?! Why am I kept out of the loop about these things?

Nevertheless, Qin Ye took some time for deliberation, before finally responding in earnest, “I do have a research topic that I would like Professor Tao to support.”

So, he still wants to proceed with it… Tao Ran didn’t try and dissuade him anymore. Instead, he adjusted his glasses, “Tell me more?”

“It’s about the evolution and diversity of Yin spirits!” Qin Ye took a deep breath and explained at one go, “It’s the same topic that I’d used for my opening lecture! Professor Tao, I’ve looked into this before. No research has been published in this subdiscipline before! In fact, I imagine that the only person who’s working on this right now is Academician Yu. I know full well that if a research topic is going to become a core discipline in any academy, it would take much more than the efforts of a single person. It would require multiple papers and countless sources of proof and evidence. Incidentally, I’ve got some experience and insights in this field, and I hope that the academy would support me in this regard!”

Tao Ran’s eyes gleamed brightly. He picked up a pen and tapped the paper in front of him.

This was indeed a research topic that ventured into uncharted territories. Otherwise, Professor Yu would never have applied for the hunting zone in Mount Tai City to be kept under surveillance as an experiment. As far as Professor Tao knew, Professor Yu had already pushed for it, and several decision making bodies were also keeping tabs on this research topic. However, nobody ventured further to make a decision on it.

Why not?

Simple. The amount of research conducted on Yin spirits was just far too sparse to prove anything to date. Bizarre spirits like the Great Intergenerational Heredity was but an example of this, and it was quite likely that this was the only bizarre Yin spirit that Cathay had any research information about right now. With the severe lack of proof in hand, not even Professor Yu could bridge the gap to prove that the diversity of Yin spirits was a norm, rather than an exception. And if the appearance of the Great Intergenerational Heredity was but an isolated incident, or a rare exception, then the pursuit of research into the diversity of Yin spirits wouldn’t mean much, even if they did manage to prove its existence.

Therefore, if one wanted to secure a publication on Cultivators Weekly and attract the attention of all major academic forums, the most important thing was proof. Firstly, proof that this was no isolated incident, and secondly, proof that even if such mutations were rare occurrences, such mutations would give rise to dire consequences.

Otherwise, such research topics, even if proven, would hardly cause a ripple in the academic world.

After all, the mortal realm’s understanding of Yin spirits was currently filled with cracks. Nobody had any time to care for minor nuances.

“Are you saying that you’re able to prove the contents of what you’ve discussed during your opening lecture?” Tao Ran’s expressions turned grave, “Little Qin, this is an academy. And as far as academies are concerned, everything we say must be backed by irrefutable evidence. This isn’t like a battlefield, where you can move and act based solely on your instincts and intuition.”

“I’ll admit that your opening lecture was an eye-opener. But have you thought about why it hasn’t caused a ripple through academia despite there being in attendance Professor Yu and several other esteemed guests of the SRC back then?”

He shook his head lightly, “Logically speaking, with an organization built upon academic research, your discourse during the opening lecture should have caused ripples throughout the academia by now. But it hasn’t. Why? It’s because there’s insufficient evidence!”

“It’s irrefutable that you’d introduced the research academia to a whole new perspective. But proof takes time - sometimes several years on end. The examples you had provided earlier were built upon some measure of speculation and assumptions. Turning your perspective into an irrefutable conclusion isn’t going to be simple. If you’re going to do it, then you’ve got to ensure that your evidence is real and applicable, and every statement and premise you make is backed by relevant papers and research and supported by examples. Otherwise… you’re only going to be wasting your time.”

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