Throughout the presidency of her husband, Martha Washington hosted a weekly reception each Friday evening for anyone who would like to attend. At these gatherings, men and women from the local community would mingle with Members of Congress and visiting dignitaries at the presidential mansion where they would enjoy refreshments and talk.
Martha didn’t do this because she loved to entertain. She did it to encourage people, brighten people, connect people.
One hundred years later, Stéphane Mallarmé would open his modest home each Tuesday night to the literary and artistic misfits of Paris. Among the writers who gathered there each week were Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, André Gide, Paul Valéry, Paul Verlaine and Rainer Maria Rilke.
What conversations they had! Arthur Schopenhauer was likely talking about these Tuesday nights when he wrote, “The business of the novelist is not to relate great events, but to make small ones interesting.”
Debussy named Stéphane Mallarmé as his inspiration for The Afternoon of a Faun and Ravel wrote a mystical piece of music, Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé dedicated to the memory of his Tuesday night host. The visual artists who mingled with those writers and musicians on Tuesday nights were Manet, Degas, Gaugin, Whistler, Renoir, Edvard Munch and Auguste Rodin. The combined works of these artists today are worth – quite literally – many billions of dollars.
These men did not get together because they were exceptional.
They became exceptional because they got together.*
In the spirit of Martha Washington and Stéphane Mallarmé, Wizard Academy launched just such a weekly gathering one year ago.
You should start one, too.
If ever you’re in Austin on a Friday afternoon, we gather at 4PM at the Toad and Ostrich, the private pub on the campus of Wizard Academy. Just climb the tower fire escape to the quarterdeck and go through the door on your left.
We go home to our families at 5:30.
These are the rules of our gathering:
- If you talk about business or politics, we throw you out.
- Although the topic of conversation may wander like a butterfly in springtime, we have a single conversation with everyone participating. No side conversations, please.
Daniel Whittington is our host at the Toad and Ostrich, our Martha Washington, our Stéphane Mallarmé. While you’re here, you might even learn why we call him “Brittington.”
Be prepared to laugh.
Be prepared to sing.
Be prepared to live.
Do this in your town, too.
Roy H. Williams
* There were no women in the Tuesday group because it wouldn’t have been considered respectable in those days. But this has happily changed. Women are always welcome at the Toad and Ostrich. Fridays at 4PM.
Is podcasting an effective marketing tool? Dr. Bo Bennett says “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Dr. Bo – who has a Ph.D. in social psychology – is using podcasts to deliver a steady stream of customers to his online courses, public appearances and ebooks. He just launched his 7th podcast – The Dr. Bo Show. Bo says our brains are hardwired to be more receptive to audio input than visual input. (Hasn’t the wizard been telling us that since 1994? – Indy) Ride shotgun with Rotbart as he quizzes Dr. Bo today at MondayMorningRadio.com