We did not spend our days gazing into each other’s eyes. We did that gazing when we made love or when one of us was in trouble, but most of the time our gazes met and entwined as they looked at a third thing. Third things are essential to marriages, objects or practices or habits or arts or institutions or games or human beings that provide a site of joint rapture or contentment. Each member of a couple is separate; the two come together in double attention. Lovemaking is not a third thing but two-in-one. John Keats can be a third thing, or the Boston Symphony Orchestra, or Dutch interiors, or Monopoly.
~ Via museum 2.0
The term “the third thing,” is the title of a moving essay by poet Donald Hall ( written in 2005).
The library as a third thing:
Text exerpts from reports of the The Netherlands Institute for Social Research.
“The strengths of the library system are its still wide reach, not only as an institution where people can borrow books for recreation and relaxation, but also as a neutral, low-threshold place to visit and to consult content. “