Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Whimsical or the product of a deranged mind?

Neither, in my opinion.

The Librarian
I was watching University Challenge on TV last night. In case you don't know, it's a BBC quiz show where teams from British universities compete. The quiz master, Jeremy Paxman, has the sort of cutting wit that would reduce me to a quivering jelly of mortification in three seconds.


The questions are...not easy (unless you happen to know the answer)

"What subfield of physics deals with plasmas, such as those in fusion reactors and interplanetary space, and more generally with the interactions between a conducting fluid and a magnetic field?"

or perhaps...

"Which French chemist refuted the phlogiston theory of combustion by identifying and naming oxygen? He was guillotined in 1794 for tax crimes, despite having helped reform the taxation system."

Actually, I can usually (sometimes) answer the artsy questions and, oh, what a thrill that is when I get an answer right! Small pleasures... 

The picture of The Librarian was a starter question for the picture round. I'd not seen it before. I thought...'Picasso? Braque? Definitely 20th century avant-garde."

I'm glad I only thought and didn't SAY out loud. The humiliation would have been too great to bear.

The Librarian was by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527 – 1593) - SIXTEENTH CENTURY? Well, only about four hundred years out, Caroline.

"After the portrait was released to the public, some scholars, who had a close relationship with the book culture at that time, argued that the portrait ridiculed their scholarship. In fact... it criticized some wealthy people who collected the books in order to satisfy their ownership, instead of to read the books."

Whimsical or the product of a deranged mind? Sheer genius, I'd say.

Unlike my feeble attempts to answer questions on University Challenge.