Wednesday, May 03, 2006

An Evening with Noam Chomsky

I've been studying at MIT for 3 years, but until last night had never seen Noam Chomsky. Last night, my class had a private question and answer dinner with him. For those that don't know who he is the:
  • Most cited person in the world that is still living.
  • The person who single handedly invented the field of linguistics, and the theory used by computers to understand computer languages
  • A well known political dissident -- especially of US foreign policy.
A lot of people hate him; while even more people see him as a hero. I recall listening to a debate on NPR between a supporter and a detractor of Israel. The pro-Israel debater kept responding to charges in Chomsky's book leading the other debater to say:
You keep quoting Chomsky.
Why are you quoting Chomsky?
He's not here.
*I* am here.
Such is the power of Chomsky: Love him or hate him; you simply can't ignore him.

At this evening, there was no planned agenda; just a night of questions from my classmates who had crowded into a tiny room. It was easily the most well attended event our class's society had organized all year -- because people like me, came out of their thesis cubby holes to see it. What surprised me was how mild mannered his voice was.

I gave him a copy of Hatcher's Love, Power and Justice, and Foad Katirai's "Global Governance and the Lesser Peace" and was excited by an invitation to "come by sometime" to his office to talk more about the books.

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