• I see that Mr. Think Denk, about whom I blogged yesterday, has returned the compliment today.
One of the things that interested me about his posting was that he noted the presence on my bookshelves of Randall Jarrell’s Pictures from an Institution, one of my favorite novels–but that he didn’t say anything about it to me at the time! I, too, make an invariable practice of checking out the shelves of the people whose homes I visit and drawing conclusions about them from what I find there, but I usually share those conclusions with my hosts.
It makes me wonder what else he noticed….
• Incidentally, readers of my recent book column about Mary McCarthy may be amused to learn that when you search for Pictures from an Institution at amazon.com, The Groves of Academe comes up on the same screen. That’s a good one, too–but Pictures from an Institution is much better, and contains a truly wicked pen portrait of McCarthy to boot.
• Readers who’ve been keeping up with the ceaseless controversy over the fate of Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation by way of Mr. Modern Art Notes and Ms. CultureGrrl might want to take a look at this 2005 posting in which I reported on my first (and, I suspect, last) visit to that famously eccentric museum’s suburban headquarters.
Here’s the money quote:
I’m glad I waited so long to go to the Barnes for the first time. It’s not a place for the casual museumgoer. That’s why it will be a crime to move it elsewhere. I’m not talking about the complex legal and fiscal issues at stake in the planned move–I’m not competent to assess those. I’m talking about purely aesthetic matters. The Barnes isn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but it’s unique, and that’s the point of it….You can’t just drop by on the spur of the moment–you have to make a reservation in advance and go well out of your way to get there. That contributes enormously to its special quality. Once the Barnes pulls up stakes and moves downtown, this quality will be lost forever, even if the existing galleries are reproduced exactly in its new quarters (which I’ll believe when I see it).
I haven’t changed my mind.