Watch out for the Regenstein’s elite Gestapo

By Patrick Burke

Due to the apocalyptically inclement weather these past few weeks, my issues of ye olde Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Jersey Star-Ledger, Cigar Aficionado, as well as multiple Giordano’s orders never reached me. Giordano’s failed deliveries cut the deepest, in that I was forced to make perilously, ill-equipped arctic expeditions to Dunkin’ Donuts on 53rd Street, also known as the Road to Perdition.

America may run on Dunkin’, but I’m pretty sure U of C runs on Aderall—at least during the winter. That last superfluous, tasteless interjection will appropriately be censored not for content, but for sponsorship issues. The Maroon happens to still be getting it in with soda. Furthermore, though blissfully misinformed and hungry, I have resolved to join this string of columns in the Maroon that has included, but has not been limited to, topics on the order of the U of C “sneer,” the precarious status of the Uncommon Application, and more general human interest sidebars involving the existential position of pedantic prima donnas. As much as I enjoy unqualified, self-indulgent pontification, I have nonetheless opted to take a novel approach in my contribution to this sometimes cynical, often nostalgic, begrudgingly poignant, inevitably heartrending, endearingly hostile symposium.

Without the requisite degree of additional justification, I shall cryptically but sincerely convey my overall impression of the state of the U of C student in this supposedly turbulent era for the Midwest’s Isle of Rhodes by supplying engaging commentary upon my very own library late fees. Reaching the value of $470, my Reg rap sheet is decidedly vivid and prolonged, such as many things in Amsterdam—like the Van Gogh Museum’s audio tour. The journey through my list of library fines begins with Soviet Politics, 1945-1953 ($6)—Regenstein Reserve, uncut, which comes with a small price to pay for such a rollicking tour de force of eight years of love, loss, life, and unremitting alcohol abuse. The rap sheet persists in the same vein with The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison ($6), Soviet Workers and Late Stalinism: Labour and the Restoration of the Stalinism System After World War II ($1), and Creating the New Soviet Woman ($10). Although I found Lynne Attwood’s daring exposé of collectivized femininity liberating, I feel that the other two titles overemphasized mass murder, torture, diabolical mind games, and Stalin’s sleeping habits, while egregiously misinterpreting the definition of totalitarianism in light of neo-Arendtian norms. Having withdrawn from the Cold War course, I let the epoch of the pedestrian art scholar theme begin: Paper Museums: the Reproductive Print in Europe ($5) and The Art of Ancient Egypt ($6). Hopefully, these fines are only suggested contributions to my outstanding debt.

Upon departing from the realm of Stalinist theory and bold-faced art vocabulary word collections, my fines suddenly take a harrowingly modern turn. Immersed in the hard-hitting realist theory and promotional media-related announcements of Strategy some springs ago, I was apparently hit with a $1 dagger for The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America. Pollack’s sober, open-minded assessment of the contemporary Iranian state proposes some strikingly innovative, refreshingly non-combative solutions for a glorious reconciliation. Too bad everyone still remembers that whole Mossadegh thing—and Reagan’s presidency. The two subsequent fines issued by the Kafkan deity include a dual $30 penalty on Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representation and Mirrors of Destruction: War, Genocide, and Modern Identity. That was a fun paper to write in winter.

Although I at least faintly recall the majority of the aforementioned titles, the last few books that materialize on my rap sheet are eerily anonymous and preposterous. The first inductee in this absurdist category is a $75 death blow for Applied Linear Regression. Not only do I lack the appropriate concentration, the mathematical prerequisites, and the masochistic capacity for the class that would accompany such a bleak text, but there is an element of karmic retribution in play as well. Without a doubt, I am being punished for my hubris, having always gone out of my way to deny the Gauss-Markov assumptions of linear models as publicly as possible. Finally, to finish me off, the stacks are haunting me. The phantom hydra bears three heads: Modern Western Armenian—Exercises ($100), Modern Western Armenian Dictionary ($100), and A History of Sicily ($100). According to the mysterious “email-notices” entity, all three of these books have been “lost.”

Convinced that I played no part in the disappearances of these hallowed texts, where can I possibly turn for justice? Would even the lowliest of subterranean Reg employees advocate the cause of such a hapless reprobate? Honestly, I haven’t even summed up the listed fines, the value of my transgressions. Perhaps 470 is the number of false incriminations. Regardless, a mere serf upon the Reg’s fluorescent-lit manor I must pay my dues, lest I forever remain alienated, ostracized, and restricted. Thus I find myself, nearly four years into the life of the mind, massively in debt to a library. I think I’ll go read The Stranger—at least I own it.