Noam Chomsky is a pretty unlikely celebrity. As a preeminent anarchist theorist, his political writing is full of passionate intensity, but in his numerous public appearances, he conforms much more to images associated with his day job as a preeminent academic and linguist. He’s very soft-spoken—I’ve never heard him raise his voice above the register of polite coffee-shop conversation—and frumpy in that elder scholar kind of way: uncombed gray hair, an endless supply of sweaters and corduroy jackets…
So, yes, it’s amusing when, in the short clip above, a young Chomsky fan asks the 85-year-old “father of modern linguistics” for advice on how to talk to women. Chomsky’s nonplussed response is honest and heartfelt. He has nothing to offer in this regard, he says: “I got out of that business 70 years ago.” If it seems like Chomsky’s math is a little off—he was married in 1949—consider that he and his wife Carol met when they were both just five years old.
Theirs was a quietly charming romance. Chomsky, who has always possessed an extraordinary ability to keep his personal, political, and professional lives separate, did not speak much of their marriage until after Carol’s death in 2008. In the excerpt above from a Big Think interview shortly after, Chomsky tells a story of group of peasants in Southern Columbia who planted a forest in his wife’s memory. He’s also asked to define love. This time, he has a much more interesting response than his reply to the would-be pick up artist above: “I just know it’s—has an unbreakable grip, but I can’t tell you what it is. It’s just life’s empty without it.”
via Critical Theory