Whatever you think about the year 2017, it’s safe to say it was not the year of intellectuals. So it’s comforting to know that there are still a few intellectuals out there.
This little anecdote featuring Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald made my day and I think it deserves more attention than it got.
Noam Chomsky is clearly a controversial figure, but widely regarded as the most influential living intellectual. At least since a publisher of one of his books printed this bold statement on the cover and nobody bothered to disagree with it.
He has written books about intellectualism, criticized intellectuals of all eras and has been an intellectual for at least seven decades.
But what does a true intellectual say if he does not like how you dress? Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald famous for his work on Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks met with Chomsky in March 2016 and reported this dialog on his Facebook page:
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.
Greenwald (slightly confused): Are you sharing that anecdote because you dislike my tie?
That’s how you receive a fashion critique from the world’s greatest public intellectual.
I could not find the original essay but the New York Times cited from Camus’ journal in an report about a festival celebrating the 70th anniversary of Camus’ first and only trip to New York:
“He was less impressed by American neckties: ‘You have to see it to believe it. So much bad taste hardly seems imaginable.’”
But more importantly, was Chomsky right about Glenn Greenwald’s tie? Yes, no doubt about that: