• For whom do I have an “intellectual romance”?

    This question was posed to me on Twitter today, with the stipulation that I keep it to people still living. It still being broad, I’m going to narrow the scope by thinking outside my field. In fact, I’m avoiding traditional areas of scholarship entirely. This has the additional advantage of also avoiding the embarrassment of naming certain, revered colleagues. (I’m not immune to the “wonk crush.”)

    I’ve long been attracted to just about anybody who exhibits true and pure professionalism, in the sense of an attention to and reverence for nuances and fundamentals. Naturally, such people are at the top of their profession. They’re not hard to find. Here are just a few of my favorites, in different areas of arts, entertainment, and journalism (these are in no particular order):

    • Bill T. Jones — I’m not even that appreciative of his dances or dance in general. But to hear this man talk about dance and history and movement is sublime. He’s got it.
    • Andy Goldsworthy — Now, his art speaks to me. To watch him do and talk about it is a treat. I highly recommend his DVD, Rivers & Tides.
    • Steven Colbert — The man needs no introduction.
    • Meryl Streep — Who can possibly appreciate professionalism and quality and not be in love with Meryl Streep?

    • John Lithgow — I’ve just always liked him. His whole being speaks to me. I can’t explain this. (My parents have met him, and I’m very jealous.)

    • Terry Gross — The master of the interview.

    I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

    Aaron Grote noted on Twitter that these are not romances so much as crushes (we’re still talking “intellectual” here). The former is a two-way relationship, the later not.

    Related, I once listed five people I’d like to have lunch with. It was a similar exercise to this one, though the results were different. It was over three years ago. I’m over Nate Silver. I’ve met Michael Pollan, not that he’d remember me. Acknowledging the obstacles, I would still like to meet Richard Feynman (dead).


    • ” Acknowledging the obstacles I would still like to meet Richard Feynman (dead).”

      Yes the two men of the 20th century I would most like to meet would be Churchill and Feynman. Both thought out of the box and anything could stimulate their interest. Feynman was a safe cracker among other thing and he actually broke into the files that contained our atomic bomb secrets (he had the clearance) for a bit of entertainment at another’s expense.

      He was not wedded to any one idea and his mind was open to almost anything. That is one of the problems I see with healthcare discussions. Everyone and I mean everyone is wedded to their own particular ideas being mostly unable to stray or dream a bit. Everyone is afraid of being criticized by those on ‘their side’. That crazy Feynman never really worried about those things and thus was always there to be an outlier instead of just a consensus thinker.

      Take note that unlike many others sometimes I see you straying or perhaps dreaming. You should do more of that.

    • The architecture of my friend, Nils Finne. http://www.finne.com/

      • Visually, beautiful. But, acoustically — especially with children — appears loud. Very loud. Many hard surfaces.

        • Nils responds — “I have found that music sounds great in my houses…..they do tend to be acoustically bright. However, with area rugs and other soft furnishings, the brightness can be mitigated. And I have many clients with small children.”

    • Terry Gross: what’s amazing about her (well, one of them) is that she conducts most of her interviews via telephone (or whatever she uses for remote interviews), yet the listener gets the impression that she and the person being interviewed are intimate. And her range, from art to politics to science to technology to theatre to most every other subject or topic.