Among the major figures who have tried to understand it “all” is Joel Primack, physicist at the University of California, who helped to discover the “dark matter” of which twenty-five percent of the universe is composed. He and his wife, Nancy Abrams, joined us in conversation in 2006 to discuss their book, “The View from the Center of the Universe.” Among the less-than-trivial questions addressed are: how did the universe begin? how is it structured? what purpose, if any, does it reveal? what does it suggest about a transcendent power or powers? does it have any neighbor universes? Once again we find that the best way to stretch and/or strengthen the mind is through cosmology.
Before the heirarchs of the Digital World became the heroes of business students and MBA professors the most admired “captain of industry” was Jack Welch, the long term head of General Electric. Shortly after he retired in 2001 we chatted with him and found him delightfully (and surprisingly) bright, candid, unaffected and probably not really ready for retirement—-as this conversation and his continuing public presence reveal.
Midrash is the Hebrew word for commentary, particularly commentary on the Hebrew Bible. Many secular intellectuals have been drawn toward that very challenge, among them Leon Kass, physician, philosopher and teacher of the humanities, now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
At the time in 2003 when this conversation occurred he was a professor at the University of Chicago, on leave in Washington where he chaired the President’s Commission on Bioethics.
The insights and meanings he finds in Genesis, as presented here, are focused not only on Creation but also on the possible realities behind the account of Abraham and his descendants and then upon the formation of the Jewish religion and its persisting “people.” This conversation of eleven years ago still resonates in the mind of Kass’s interlocutor.
To define genius madness is (or may be) but our guests, a nascent professor of English and, of all things, an economist, take on the challenge. The guiding theme is that the burning brilliance of the young genius and the steadiness of the Old Master are virtually non-overlapping. The argument in this conversation from 2006, is illustrated by quotations from great poets and novelists and audio from some films by genius-level movie directors.
The question is very often asked and, of course, there is no answer. But a list of the top ten would have to include Peggy Noonan. Here she is in high form, articulate, candid and rich with political aversions and enthusiasms. The basis for this conversation in 2001 was her then new book, “When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan.”