Illustration by Zach Reinker

Student reviews more chairs, becomes cursed

There are many different seats around the Lewis & Clark campus. So many, in fact, that it seems a Herculean task to review them all. One might even be inclined to ask why I attempted such a thing. When confronted with the same question about his plan to summit Everest, George Leigh Mallory only had one simple reason: “Because it’s there.” With those words resonating through my psyche, I trudge on.

In the spirit of serialization, let us pick up where we left off: Aubrey R. Watzek Library. Watzek, in addition to some standard chair options, is also home to some oddities. These offer lounging experiences which, if not comfortable, are indeed one of a kind.

To start off with one of the more tame examples, we must venture to the back of the study area in the atrium. This is where we will discover a love seat that has been split into two pieces and has a table spliced into the middle. This mutual-respect seat or love-as-a-friend seat only gets stranger the more I think about it. What purpose does it serve? Why is the table level to the seat and not the armrest? Do people actually use it? This could easily be converted into a perfectly comfortable couch and coffee table combo, but instead it is forced to live out an accursed half-life, not quite usable and not quite novel.

4/10 – Strikes the perfect balance between pedestrian and impractical.

Next up, situated not ten feet away, is the Watzek log bench. The log bench is only a bench in the most technical of definitions, where, yes, with significant effort one could sit on it, but even then with great discomfort for all parties involved. The seat itself is very shallow, at a slight incline, and varnished from top to bottom. The backrest is far too low, which puts undue strain on the middle of your spine. Sitting on this is a constant battle to not slide off and/or get a wedgie. In addition, the butt grooves in the bench only ever really insinuate the shape of the human posterior, which lends itself to an unpleasant and alienating experience.

6/10 – Novel but uncomfortable, appreciate from a distance.

The oddest of oddities that one might come across in Watzek is officially entitled “Stump Roost.” This a large bronze sculpture of a bird flying over a log situated snugly against the left side of the main stairs in the atrium. It is difficult to put into words what sitting on this entity is like. These are the only notes that I was able to take on this seat as I was sitting in it, but they capture the spirit of it.

Stump Roost: Not at all comfortable. Bird over my head. I do not think I am supposed to sit here.

What/10 – Occupies a significant portion of my waking consciousness.

In keeping with the enigmatic, let me now take you outside of the Fir Acres Theatre. Here you will find Václav Havel’s Place. Václav Havel’s Place at LC is one of many worldwide memorials to former Czech president Václav Havel. Havel places are areas designated for mutual dialogue and meaningful discussion, central to the former president’s values. The seat itself, “Democratic Bench” by Bořek Šípek, is a round table pierced through the center by a linden tree, the national tree of the Czech Republic. On either side of the tree, there are two metal chairs who each share a leg with the table, creating one large interconnected organism. 

Conceptually, this is a very cool spot to sit, however, my own personal experience with “Democratic Bench” was slightly traumatic. It was around about ten p.m. when I visited, on a moonless fall evening. The vague chlorine smell that veiled Havel’s place was equal parts off-putting and unexplained. Definitely the strangest aspect of my visit though, was the third chair placed three feet away, shrouded in shadow, and facing away from “Democratic Bench.” 

I cannot say for certain but I believe that Havel’s place at LC is haunted. 

9/10 – Recommended. 

Once again, we have reached the end of a chair review, and once again this is only a drop in the bucket of chairs around campus. In case there is no part three to this saga, the chair review must live on through you, the reader. If you see a seat, I implore you to sit in it for no other reason than because it is there.

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