Recalling Albert Camus’ Fashion Advice, Noam Chomsky Pans Glenn Greenwald’s Shiny, Purple Tie

chomsky fashion advice

70 years ago this month, Albert Camus made his first and only trip to the Unit­ed States, briefly vis­it­ing Philadel­phia and Boston, but most­ly stay­ing in New York, the city that cap­ti­vat­ed him most. As Jen­nifer Schuessler writes in The New York Times, Camus did­n’t quite know what to make of the city’s “swarm­ing lights” and “fran­tic streets.” But he had to appre­ci­ate the warmth with which he was greet­ed. Dur­ing his 1946 stay, Camus cel­e­brat­ed the Eng­lish pub­li­ca­tion of The Stranger on the rooftop of the Hotel Astor. He sat down for an inter­view with The New York­er and gave a mem­o­rable speech at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty. He also became a fash­ion crit­ic for a brief moment, offer­ing this thought on Amer­i­can neck­ties: “You have to see it to believe it. So much bad taste hard­ly seems imag­in­able.”

All of this sets up a lit­tle joke deliv­ered this week­end by Noam Chom­sky, as recalled on Face­book by jour­nal­ist Glenn Green­wald. Green­wald writes:

I arrived last night at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona for my event with Edward Snow­den and Noam Chom­sky. Chom­sky arrived short­ly after I did and, after I greet­ed him, the fol­low­ing dia­logue ensued:

Chom­sky: You know, there’s this inter­est­ing essay by Albert Camus, writ­ten dur­ing his first vis­it to the Unit­ed States, in which he described his sur­prise at what he regard­ed as the poor cloth­ing taste of Amer­i­cans, par­tic­u­lar­ly men’s choic­es of ties.

Me (slight­ly con­fused): Are you shar­ing that anec­dote because you dis­like my tie?

Chom­sky: Yes.

That’s how you receive a fash­ion cri­tique from the world’s great­est pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al.


Note: The 70th anniver­sary of Camus’s trip to New York is being com­mem­o­rat­ed in “Camus: A Stranger in the City,” a month­long fes­ti­val of per­for­mances, read­ings, film screen­ings and events. If you’re in NYC, check it out. The full pro­gram is here.

via Crit­i­cal The­o­ry

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Albert Camus: The Mad­ness of Sin­cer­i­ty — 1997 Doc­u­men­tary Revis­its the Philosopher’s Life & Work

Sartre Writes a Trib­ute to Camus After His Friend-Turned-Rival Dies in a Trag­ic Car Crash: “There Is an Unbear­able Absur­di­ty in His Death”

Get to Know Socrates, Camus, Kierkegaard & Oth­er Great Philoso­phers with the BBC’s Intel­li­gent Radio Show, In Our Time

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