On Platonic Use-Value: The Underutilized Heroism of Academics or (The Sad Case of Sadie in Real Life) by Cara Benson

three haiku by Mike Andrelczyk
May 21, 2018
2004 by Emily O’Neill
May 23, 2018

“The grease which ministers to the fire fries itself.” -Confucius, as noted by Chuang Tzu

Career scholars are ambivalently regarded for their diagnosable reaching after arcana, attaining in their efforts a reputation as accumulators of ideological detritus cast off by an astonishing efficiency of ergonomic living. As the Internet of Things streamlines all desire into Smart Moments®, modernized and developing societies replicate the code that calls for assimilation.

Exempli gratia: Aunt Sadie’s breast falls out of her brassiere at cousin Jake’s wedding – her dark, curly nipple hairs readily visible from multiple vantage points on the dance floor. Surveillance cameras hidden among ceiling mirrors and a profusion of handhelds provide gif-makers with the images (and angles) necessary to infinitely repeat the visual until Sadie is virtually and virally shamed into a seven figure media contract.

That said, cultivation of cultural marginalia could be carefully historicized in the field, thereby providing the potential data to disrupt the algorithm. The academic’s essential duty is thus, and she executes the function without design for a programmatic public. (As such, she must rely upon a benefactress’ endowment for her research grant.)

A niece emerges from her intellectual curiosity. Her entries form an elegy. The refrigerator cannot inform itself a priori of rotting produce. Had it been capable, this might have saved Aunt Sadie’s life, in the end. As was well documented, she fed herself a steady diet of deep-fried beignets to cope with the death of her sudden celebrity due to overexposure.


Cara Benson’s stories and poems have been published in The New York Times, Boston Review, Best American Poetry, Hobart, Fence, The Brooklyn Rail, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Jellyfish Review, and so on. She’s at work on a novel.

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