October 6, 2005


The Greatest Minds of the Modern Era Club decided to hold their annual meeting here in Madison. Two of the most notable attendees at this year's meeting are the great theologian Karl Barth and the eminent philosopher Bertrand Russell. During the hotel's happy hour, Barth and Russell eye one another warily. Puffing on one of his favorite Baccarat cigars, Barth moves toward Russell, who is lighting up his expensive Bjarne pipe. As the two finally stand face to face, enshrouded in smoke, Barth speaks. "You, sir, are naïve," he says calmly, to which Russell responds by saying "and you, sir, are even more so!" It is reported that this was the only meeting between the two thinkers, who never exchanged another word. What did each man mean by charging the other with naivete? How can we understand their charge in the historical context (the 1920s) in which they wrote?

My History 514 (Europrean Intellectual and Cultural History Since 1890) professor is such a goof.
Here lies a most ridiculous raw youth, indulging himself in the literary graces that he once vowed to eschew. Now he just rocks out.