Lost and Found

The forthcoming publication of a short story by Sylvia Plath that was discovered in the Indiana University rare book and manuscript library has scholars around the country scouring the stacks for more academic gold.  The highlights so far:

—  At Princeton, a post-doctoral researcher stumbled upon the undiluted egos of eight of the school’s English professors in a card-catalog cabinet in the library’s basement.  According to Library Archivist Gretchen Staley-Throb, “all of the egos were from tenured male professors in the 1940s.  The self-regard of these gentlemen had simply outgrown the ability of their campus offices to contain them.  Princeton’s librarians were authorized to use drainage tubes to siphon excess self-esteem from each professor’s prefrontal cortex.  Then they stored the fluid, which had the consistency of maple syrup, in colostomy bags in the card catalog.  Over the years, people simply forgot the bags were there.  We’re now in the process of contacting the families of the professors to see if they want these remains.  Some do, some don’t.”

—  At the University of Kentucky, a footlocker containing discarded academic standards was discovered in a tool shed next to the library.  When informed of the finding, Provost David Blackwell expressed relief: “I was wondering what the hell had happened to academic standards at our university.  We used to have them, and then they disappeared a few years ago.  Believe me, it’s no picnic handing out diplomas to graduates who think that Jonathan Swift is Taylor Swift’s grandfather.  Campus police are examining the footlocker for fingerprints.  We are going to find out who did this.  I bet you it was the damn Sociology Department!”

—  Finally, there is the case of Milton Friedman.  The legendary free-market economist and author of Capitalism and Freedom wrote a sequel to his 1962 opus that was never published.  It was found three days ago in a box of dry-cleaning receipts in the Friedman Collection at the University of Chicago library.  Entitled Uh-Oh, the 240-page manuscript describes Friedman’s discovery of how a series of computational errors by his graduate assistant led to a number of erroneous conclusions presented in his world-famous book.  He apologizes in Uh-Oh, writing that “in reality, capitalism is an organism that devours everything in its path in the name of all-encompassing greed, eventually turning on itself.  We are doomed.  And watch out for climate change, by the way.”