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Turning to Chomsky

Andrew Baron

Turning to Chomsky by Andrew Baron

I live in New York City, perhaps the safest yet potentially dangerous place on earth. Therefore, when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do, before I can even see straight, is check to make sure there is no big red block of news alerts on top of their news site. As long as the world is not crashing down around me, the next thing I do is check, to see what else is going on. Blogdex is my best source of what news everyone is talking about and often the source of underground news that hasn’t hit the mainstream yet.

On the morning of March 25th, I noticed the top, most popular link on Blogdex was one that surpassed all the rest of the links in popularity by five times. Wow, I thought, what’s this? Noam Chomsky had released a new blog called Turning the Tide and everyone was talking about it.

Chomsky seems to have resurfaced recently into pop-culture by releasing his timely works on 9/11 and now, in the heat of the 2004 US presidential elections and the quagmire called the war in Iraq, Chomsky is out in full force.

When I first visited his blog that morning, he only had one thread. It was short and terse but it was too early for me to grasp the full implications of what he was saying. I’m used to bloggers getting right to the point with a picture or a silly one liner to sum everything up and the kind of writing style that Chomsky uses reminded me of my days as a philosophy student having to wake up and read the likes of Hegel and Husserl – the kind of writing that takes a while to get into.

In addition to all of the bloggers who were linking to Turning the Tide, I noticed an exceptionally long array of comments left by random visitors. Looking at the comments section of a blog is often a good indicator of how popular the blog is, in terms of generating a reaction in the readers. The most popular online political pundits of our day, for instance, will usually spur on hundreds of comments for each post. In this case, within the short amount of time that the word got out about Chomsky’s blog and the fact that it had several hundred comments in less one day, not only alluded to the international appeal that must have occurred, but also the spirit and rage that led all of these readers to write. The density of the comments section was the major incentive I needed to wake up and re-read what Chomsky had written – to try and come to terms with what he was saying.

After spending about ten minutes reading and re-reading the posts that should have only taken me about 60 seconds by length, I came to understand not only what he was saying but also why he is so popular.

Like my favorite philosophers, Chomsky has a way with words. A short sentence of ten words can have the density of an entire volume of work. Despite the effort that is needed on the reader’s part, it is a pleasure to get, because his sentence structure and vocabulary are so unique and artistically put. I remember asking my philosophy professors who insisted my papers were not long if they would say the same thing if I was Nietzsche and handed in a short list of aphorisms. “But you are not Nietzsche”, they would say as I shrugged. Yea, I guess they were right.

Chomsky is like Nietzsche in this regard and as the days go on, I have been keeping up with his journal. Chomsky is politically fueled and opinionated, yet his opinions somehow transcend the subjective. By merely alluding to historical events, the world’s contemporary political situations of today are clearly illuminated. He is able to quickly and convincingly get right to the crux of augments such as, “Should we be fighting a war in Iraq?”, “Would it be beneficial to keep Bush in office?”, “What are the conditions that make any war okay?” In case you haven’t noticed, these topics, which seem to be so diluted with covert operations, business objectives and long winded personal rants, especially of the ridiculous and comical kind, lead to the difficulty of knowing what is going on as a matter of fact, let alone the inability to assess if they right or wrong. After only two days of postings by Chomsky, for instance, the comments section grew so large, with so much garbage, Chomsky had to take the comments section down entirely. I feel as though this was actually a good thing because you could tell from reading them that most of the visitors themselves were spending more time arguing with each other’s misinformed delusions than sticking to the topic of course.

After several more days elapsed, I started to pick up a thread. The blog, as it unfolds over time, reads like a book in the making. I found it extremely ironic when one of Chomsky’s colleagues, Rahul Mahajan, criticized Chomsky’s blog for not having “the feel” of a blog. He was right, it’s not like a typical blog which, including his own, is inconsistent from post to post, rarely with specific topics and for the most part as whimsical as the day to day lives of a ship of fools.

Therefore, I am left to conclude that Chomsky, however new to the blogosphere, has begun a master. His posts are ideal for being entirely informative, short in length, full of weight and cohesive altogether. His writing style is original and artistic. His opinions are well informed and new yet they carry the weight of the obvious. What more could anyone ask for in a blog?

Andrew Baron: