Forget student life, I want a bench

By By Steve Coons

By Steve Coons

I like the Marriott Library. It’s the only library in Salt Lake City that isn’t threatening to send my case to collections. It opens the earliest, closes the latest and isn’t specifically marketed toward the prepubescent.

But the latest construction closure has seriously impeded my studying. It’s just hard to find a place away from the maddening crowd to sit and read without journeying deep within the bowels — never mind getting service on my cell phone.

If I have an hour to read I don’t want to walk around the library, up the stairs, and through the stacks to find a free seat — and then have to do the opposite when I leave for OSH.

It’ll be nice for future students, I guess, but I couldn’t care less about future students. Unless I happen to be a future student — in which case, carry on library. I watch with the best kind of interest — the vested kind.

It wouldn’t even be a problem if this school had better benches. A lack of quality benches at this university is crippling my academic advancement.

A fine bench, you see, is the thinking man’s envoy to the sublime. However, you won’t find such a bench within five miles of Presidents’ Circle. Oh, you’ll find benches, but of the most inferior variety imaginable, for fake wood is one abstraction too many. In truth, those plastic monstrosities don’t even deserve the name bench.

A true bench should be wrenched violently from nature following the same manner in which the homeless man must be wrenched violently from a true bench. If students struggling with questions of identity and purpose can’t be called homeless, then there isn’t a bearded curmudgeon in the world with a claim to the name.

What kind of bench did Socrates place Plato on? If I’m not mistaken (I am undoubtedly mistaken) there’s a picture floating around the Internet of Mikhail Bulgakov seated on a bench made entirely out of ivory.

What the Bolsheviks would have thought about that, I don’t know or care, but the quality of the bench is as undeniable as the quality of his work (with its Victorian-era carvings and subtle swagger some might say that the bench has surpassed him). It’s no wonder that few masterpieces have emerged from these hallowed halls when such things are considered.

If I had written this essay while seated at a more elegant bench, for instance, it might have set the world on fire. Why I would be writing that essay in a world where such benches were so prevalent is a matter for the philosophers.

Oh, but if only the philosophers had such a bench upon which to ponder this apparent paradox! Then we would be getting somewhere. I dare say that seated upon today’s pseudo-bench Rodin’s thinker would have more in common with the decapitated Bertran de Born than with Dante Alighieri.

The lack of nice benches and quiet study areas does the same to students. The best way to build the campus community, the one that the mindless carnivals feign to care about, is to allow students a place to study without commuting. Maybe the library of the future will have that, I don’t know.

The truth, dear student, is that I’m not so worried about myself (I have a desk at home that can double as an envoy to the sublime in a pinch) as I am about your inevitable failure, brought on, no doubt, by the iron maiden masquerading as a park bench that this university has seen fit to place beneath the trees of LNCO.

Of course, your impending academic doom could also be the result of deficiencies in intelligence, grace or plain old-fashioned will power, but we only have the means to do something about the bench.

Something has to be done about this. It’s difficult enough as it is to sit down and read a novel, piece through philosophy or write an essay on the deplorable state of outdoor seating — and more importantly, the effect the aforementioned state will have on the quality of said essay — on a bench worthy of the name. Complain to your professors and scream so that the world will know that you’re dissatisfied with the current state of benches in America.

That will have to do, because the dramatic, semester-length bench sit-in that was initially considered has been deemed impractical. The last thing this world needs is another Masada. After all, with the pile of dead elephants and massacred rainforests these benches are going to require, the U won’t need any more bad publicity.

At least the award-winning essay I’ll write in protest of such depravity will have been composed on a bench worthy of the name.

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