The University of Wednesday-Night

Written by  //  February 16, 2011  //  David Mitchell, Special Wednesday Nights, Special Wednesdays, The Salon  //  Comments Off on The University of Wednesday-Night

By P. David Mitchell
The MetropolitaIn
February 16, 2011

The Age of Enlightenment spawned the salon, an important place for the exchange of ideas, an increase in knowledge and a source of pleasure and friendship for participants. And an influence on society.

Wikipedia tells us that salons “were carried on until quite recently, in urban settings, among like-minded people”. Clearly that author never visited David and Diana Nicholson’s stately home on Rosemount Avenue on any of the past 1500+ Wednesday-Nights where still can be found a warm welcome, lively conversation over a glass of wine and a large adopted family gathered to learn, to share and to enjoy informal and formal discussion spanning a myriad of ideas. On occasion, seated around the dining room table were money managers who oversaw billions of dollars in funds; at other times specialists in computer security, foreign policy, economics, politics, medicine, education, etc. occupied these chairs. Our gracious hosts invite guests from all walks of life and many countries to share their knowledge or perspective on nearly every conceivable topic. Those privileged to be regular guests owe a debt of gratitude to David and Diana for conceiving and offering this incomparable educational opportunity. And for cleaning up the next day.

Host David magically produces a video to provide background information for almost every topic and visitor before opening discussion, which he steers like a pilot through calm and sometimes turbulent skies, encouraging ‘experts’ to share their wisdom yet attempting to permit all to have input. An impossible task at which he excels.

Traditionally salons were organized by women and Wednesday-Night is no exception. Like the Parisian “salonnières” who were “the legitimate governors of [the] potentially unruly discourse” that took place, Diana is the ultimate helmsman guiding the agenda and implicitly the discourse, holding in abeyance her symbol of power — breakfast for David.

It is customary for someone to thank special guests and the group; I will attempt to express collective appreciation for our hosts. Unlike a university seminar (which Wednesday-Night resembles) no one is expected to study before-hand but a time-consuming-to-prepare and extensive set of background reading usually is provided. And two massive websites devoted to Wednesday-Night summarize and expand on discussions. Through my participation I found that I was much better informed about current events, political intrigue, the economy, the market, the arts, etc. than would have been possible in any other way. David and Diana I am grateful for the opportunity to experience your gracious hospitality and to participate in the development and sharing of knowledge and friendships. May you continue as long as you wish and then participate in some future salon hived off from Wednesday-Night. Viva Wednesday-Night! Excelsior!

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