I’ve been at jury duty yesterday and today, serving on a civil case. The judge is crusty but fair; the bailiff has a big mustache, and is crusty but fair with a big sidearm on his hip, and the courthouse building is a freaking colossal rotunda. Actually, the building is a central rotunda attached to an outer hexagon with eight-story spokes, and it is one imposing pile of masonry. Made back in the day when public architecture’s form followed function, I guess, it seems like a cross between the Panopticon and a giant gear; like something that Mario would spend nine levels getting to the top of, only to see it collapse in rubble when he jumps on the dragon’s head.
Seriously, though, being in such an imposing structure lends an impressive amount of oomph to the proceeding. In The Man in the Iron Mask, Alexandre Dumas describes Aramis’ feelings on touring the Bastille: he is opressed by the mighty masonry walls, depressed by the sheer size of the fortress. I poo-poohed that at the time, dismissing it as romantic-era vapors. You know what, though? It’s true! The colossal building seems like a huge, heavy machine for churning out justice. With steam heat.