Letters from Noam Chomsky
Some twenty years ago I had a correspondence with Noam Chomsky that lasted for several months. The issues are familiar, and these letters will not add to anyone's knowledge or insights on them. I present the letters now not for their ostensible content but for their style.
The correspondence of academics is generally marked by great courtesy. Sometimes this courtesy is exaggerated so that mockery can be suspected. Sometimes the tone lapses into cool formality and, rarely, thinly veiled incivility. But these deviations from the norm of courtesy are rare.
Professor Chomsky's style, however, is something altogether different and, I believe, unique. Here I was, a perfect stranger, somebody he is unlikely to ever have heard of, somebody who could not have mattered much in his life or work, and yet he invests this correspondence with manic energy, lengthy persistence, and most puzzling of all, with a verbal violence that is almost universally shunned by adults.
A truly outstanding person.
(The following PDF file is best viewed by pressing on the magnifier [zooming key] a number of times)
by Christine Behme (2014)
Chomsky, Said, Shahak, Schoenman
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