Austrian Adventures: Speculations about the machinery table

Theresa Balick
Austria Correspondent

At the back of the main area in the Mensa is one of the most intriguing features in the entire Kartause.

It’s a table that immediately commands your attention as you walk into the Mensa. It’s totally different from the ones around it.

The other tables are rectangular with booths around some of the sides and chairs sticking out the others. Then there are two round tables: one ordinary one in the front, and the strikingly different round table in the back.

What makes this table so different is not its stone center. It’s the reason why the center is stone: there is a massive piece of some type of machinery that hulks beside the table. It reaches over the table, and its long arm plunges down into the center of the table, meaning that whoever is lucky enough to sit under the arm is in constant fear of the machine breaking and falling on top of him or her.

Many have speculated about the use of this machine. Why is it in the Mensa, our smaller equivalent to the Caf? What purpose does it serve? Is it still operational?

The last question has been tested. Sadly, it isn’t.

It looks rather menacing. There is what seems to be a cage attached to the longer arm that would, if the machine were operational, act as a lever to lift the cage if it were pulled down. Other than those two features, the rest of the wood and stone surrounding the cage and arm serves no discernable purpose.

So what is it for? The basic and most popular answer is that it used to be a part of some kind of mill. Although that answer doesn’t make much sense, other than that, there are just crazy theories.

One student has speculated that it is the punishing box where rebellious students must serve a short sentence, watching other students eat and have fun in the Mensa while they are cramped inside the cage. I joke that he would be the first to populate it.

Speculations aside, the machinery table is a popular table among the students. It is always fun to try to see people around the table, with the arm of the machine blocking the view across it. It fits so many students around its stone center. It’s one of the quirky and fun features of the Kartause.

Maybe someone here knows its purpose, but for the time being, the speculations about the machinery table remain a fun topic that prompts us to propose wild theories in explanation. Some things are more fun if left a mystery, after all.