Student Asks Noam Chomsky for Dating Advice

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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Noam Chom­sky Schools 9/11 Truther; Explains the Sci­ence of Mak­ing Cred­i­ble Claims

Film­mak­er Michel Gondry Presents an Ani­mat­ed Con­ver­sa­tion with Noam Chom­sky

Noam Chom­sky Spells Out the Pur­pose of Edu­ca­tion

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (5)
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  • no says:

    Life is even emp­ti­er after you lose it. You can’t lose what you don’t have. You can’t mourn an attach­ment that nev­er was. Avoid them like the plague so you can focus on your suc­cess­es in life rather than be wrapped up in the dra­ma.

  • James says:

    “Noth­ing fails like suc­cess.”

    “It’s bet­ter to have loved and lost than to have nev­er loved before.” :)

  • Silvia says:

    It’s “Colom­bia” (the South Amer­i­can coun­try) and not Colum­bia.

  • Jane says:

    And then he got mar­ried again two months after the inter­view.

  • Mikko says:

    In North Amer­i­ca, it is almost always spelled and pro­nounced “Colum­bia” except by those whose first lan­guage is Span­ish. Since Pro­fes­sor Chom­sky is flu­ent in Span­ish, I think you can rest assured he pro­nounced the word appro­pri­ate­ly when he spoke in Columbia/Colombia. We’re you try­ing to school the Father of Mod­ern Lin­guis­tics? LOL

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