My Impromptus today begins with Qaboos bin Said, the late Sultan of Oman. He provided an object lesson for Saddam Hussein, over in Iraq. (If you sit on the throne of power, don’t let your sons get too close. One of them may overthrow you.) Other topics include Harry and Meghan, Warren and Bernie, and impeachment.
You feel like a little mail?
Michael Bloomberg has a plan. “As president,” he tweeted, “I’ll turn the East Room into an open office plan, where I’ll sit with our team.” Accompanying this tweet was a picture, imagining the scene.
I myself tweeted, “I hope this doesn’t sound too misanthropic, but I’ve always thought one of the most beautiful things in life is a door.”
A philosophy professor, Stuart D. Taylor of Roosevelt University in Chicago, has sent a nice response.
Not only is a door indeed beautiful, but it plays an important role in various civilizations, especially our own. A mezuzah is not coincidentally placed on a door; various ancient blood sacrifices took place under a doorway; in the Hebrew Scriptures a knock on a door was never a good thing; external doors indicate a unity within; internal doors signal a divide within; the meaning of John Ford’s The Searchers turns on a ring composition involving the use of a door of the Edwards place and then the Jorgensen place; Luther pinned his 95 theses to a door (and even if in fact he didn’t, that this is apocryphal is important) . . .
Let me recommend two very good books: first, and especially, the historian Daniel Jütte’s The Strait Gate: Thresholds and Power in Western History, and second, the architect Simon Unwin’s Doorway. Also very good is Georg Simmel’s essay “Bridge and Door.”
A friend and correspondent in Indiana sent me a note about the sign-stealing scandal in Major League Baseball. One of the things he said absolutely knocked me down. I had never known. Here we go:
. . . I played a bit of baseball in my time. Baseball paid for my Michigan State education. (Rick Leach threatened to kick my a** after I got him to ground out to first. I offered him the chance. He declined.) Being a pitcher, I spent a lot of time trying to learn/steal signals and got pretty good at it. Never considered myself to be cheating — yet, maybe my moral compass needs calibrating?
Forget sign-stealing. Rick Leach? You’ve got to understand: For an Ann Arborite my age, Rick Leach is Elvis. (He was quarterback of the University of Michigan football team, and played baseball, too, and later had an MLB career.)
Finally, at the end of a post earlier this month, I wrote this:
One of the most amazing pieces of journalism I have ever read was published at Politico in September 2016. By Garrett M. Graff, it was titled “‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’: Where was the president in the eight hours after the Sept. 11 attacks? The strange, harrowing journey of Air Force One, as told by the people who were on board.”
There were many, many bits of testimony, including from Eric Draper, the presidential photographer. This one sent a shiver down my spine: “Soon after we got on board, I see [President Bush] pop out of the cabin, he’s heading down the aisle. He says, ‘OK boys, this is what they pay us for.’ I’ll never forget that.”
Now a friend and correspondent in Georgia writes,
Thanks for recommending that article. Outstanding and compelling. We have forgotten too much.
Yes. Very well put. We have forgotten too much.