My first encounter with the name of Noam Chomsky was relatively recent. Maybe ten or eleven years ago when I was still dreaming big, hoping for miracles to happen and living in the daily presence of God and other fairy tales, somebody, I don’t remember who, told me that a certain Noam Chomsky is a very important thinker of our age and that I should definitely check him out. Me being me, naturally I ignored him and probably I even forgot the name of Chomsky until the year of 2005, when YouTube came around. Yes, thanks to YouTube I learned soon about many things and many more names of which I was only dimly aware before. YouTube became a kind of surrogate parent or, even better, a babysitter of the mind, a curious gap filler of my ever-hungry lacuna of ignorance.
Thus, it happened that in one bright and sunny day I stumbled upon a video clip of an interview – if that is the right word for it – Noam Chomsky did with the British comedian Ali G, better known as Sasha Baron Cohen. In all likelihood you have probably seen the clip already, but for those who haven’t – here’s the infamous and by now, in certain notorious circles, legendary gig.
This short video snippet was my first real initiation in the Chomskyan mysteries. And I am sure that I am not alone in admitting this. Many cats in the future will certainly benefit from the digital and informational blessings of YouTube. For me personally, this clip was only the beginning to what became a long and rocky road to Chomskyian literacy. So, soon afterwards, I found myself spending hours listening to Chomsky’s talks, debates and lectures, being very much under the spell of his pumped up intellectual muscles. A true Renascence Man was in our midst, I thought. I became literally intoxicated with Chomsky – his scholarly brilliance and his razor-sharp intellect. Glued to the computer screen I watched countless of his interviews and documentaries. More significantly, I even read a fair pile of his books, which I found a little dull and a bit of a bore, to be honest. Though that was certainly my fault, not Chomsky’s.
Eventually, I was gulping down everything Chomsky related like a madman. Everything. In Chomskyian. By Chomsky. Chomskyish. And, lo and behold, pretty soon I managed to develop Chomskyian views of my own. I almost felt like a little Chomsky.
Anyway, enough about my crazy Chomsky obsession. I would like to share with you one of my favorite Chomsky moments (or rather quotes) that’s captured on videotape and that I have had the luck to discover in the primeval forests of YouTube. It’s a bit out of context and somewhat existential but here it is:
If you decide not to make use of the opportunities you have, not to try to live your life in a way which is constructive and helpful, you end up looking back and say why did I bother living?
I don’t know about you but this quote hits me hard. Right to the core of my being. Every single time I hear it. I suspect it is because I am not Chomsky. I am Magnus.