Confronting Fundamentalism, Reclaiming "Humanism"

Catherine M Wallace

We need a name for ourselves. We need a label for the common ground shared by reasonable people if we are going to confront fundamentalism effectively. And I have a nominee, reclaimed from the fourteenth century: humanist. Humanist, like the parallel term scientist, refers primarily to a method of scholarly inquiry: first, the rigorous, transparent analyses of texts; second, an nuanced sensitivity to cultural history. These skills characterize any serious work in "the humanities," from which the first generation of humanists took their name.

Urban anonymity: we can't name the taste of what's missing.

Catherine M Wallace

I have tasted the salt on another man's bread. The professor made much of the image, which was Dante's lament for his exile from Florence. I pictured a medieval Italian, salt shaker in one hand, a slice of bread in another. What? My small flicker of confusion was enough to lodge the line in my memory. There it waited until something in my own life evoked it.