Today’s Impromptus begins with a tale of two sculptures: Charging Bull, the Wall Street icon, which was placed there after the Crash of 1987, as a symbol of American resilience and dynamism; and Fearless Girl, which was placed in front of the bull this year in order to make a statement about gender equality in the financial sector.
The bull used to be something good, you see (good if you appreciate American capitalism). Now it has been rendered something bad, something menacing, to be stood up to. Neat trick, right? And a dirty trick, in my opinion.
Anyway, that’s what I lead with. And, after myriad peregrinations, I finish with an item on Robert McCloskey, a political scientist at Harvard who died in the 1960s (and was the father of Deirdre McCloskey, who is well-known today). Robert McCloskey was a favorite professor of a friend of mine. I wish I had studied under him myself.
One of my in-between items is about rooms. Huh? Room 34 of Britain’s National Gallery contains British paintings from 1750 to 1850. On Twitter, Daniel Hannan declared this “arguably the finest room in the world.”
That got me to thinking: What is the finest room in the world? And what are our criteria? I always thought that the Main Reading Room in the Library of Congress — Jefferson Building — was kinda fine. Mighty fine. Then there are rooms in Italy. So many …
(I should put in a plug for the Grosser Saal of the Mozarteum, Salzburg.)
If you’d like to play, please write me at [email protected]. Tell me what you think is the finest room in the world.
Our own room, ought that to be the finest? Why, sure. Charity begins at home. And, more specifically, in the sanctity of our very own room, which should provide comfort and order — and, as a bonus, reflect a little beauty. A blessed asylum.
P.S. We remember, of course, Room 222, of television past.
P.P.S. The Topkapi Palace, in Istanbul, contains a dozen rooms that might vie for “finest.” (I’ll stop now.)