The New York Public Library's Rotunda ceiling:  Prometheus bringing the gift of fire

The New York Public Library’s Rotunda ceiling: Prometheus bringing us the gift of fire

The New York Public Library, Rose Reading Room, place 423: This is where I sat and worked on pieces of my novel (and also to wait out the rainstorm) when I last visited the city.  I’m normally not very successful working in public places, and least of all in libraries, but there’s some kind of magic that happens at the Rose Reading Room.  Even though I’m surrounded by hundreds of people, I am able to sink in to my own work incredibly well. Maybe it’s the cathedral-like atmosphere, the commanding quiet.  The sounds heard in this room are functional:  Chairs scraping, someone sneezing, pages turning, the scratching of pens and pencils on paper.  Maybe I can sink in because everyone else is—whether reading, writing, studying, or researching, everyone is thinking in a concentrated way.

The concentrated brain power changes the atmosphere, creates its own weather.  The energy of all of our thoughts collects above us, creating a greater energy than we could on our own.  Looking up, the paintings on the ceiling seem to verify this—the bruised clouds tinged with pink and gold are either gathering to storm or clearing to allow for more blue sky.  In our numbered places at communal tables, we are each a small Prometheus, bringing our bit of fire to the room—a silent offering.

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