When he was ten years old, Charlie Huenemann produced and directed a short documentary about the life of Abraham Lincoln, and then disguised himself as Abraham Lincoln and showed the film to anyone passing through the local hospital’s electrocardiogram unit, where his mom worked. His subsequent life has been a continuous trajectory from this episode of geeky awkwardness.
As a senior in high school, he heard Zane Pautz present a lecture on philosophy, and it seems to have been a powerful determinant of his career, as he has been studying the same subject ever since, armed with an 18-year-old’s attention span.
He’s drawn to strange and pivotal moments in intellectual history, moments when brilliant people in impossible circumstances manage to articulate ingenious ideas that go partly somewhere and partly nowhere. He rebels against the notion that anyone can do something and know what they are doing at the same time. Packed in here somewhere is a pragmatist’s attitude toward meaning.
While he accepts that dwarves on the shoulders of giants can see further than the giants themselves, Huenemann prefers to be a ground-level dwarf (Dwalin, he fancies), looking up at the giants and trying to figure out what makes them so tall. Since being a giant himself is not in the cards, he contents himself translating into his own terms what he can glean from tall stacks of books, and sharing what he learns with others. Life is short, probably meaningless, and filling one’s mind with big ideas seems to be a good way to pass the time.