I wish Noam Chomsky
, but he was born and grew up in America
. The descriptions of his childhood that he gives, of the Jewish milieu in which he was nurtured, saddens.
The world of kiosks where one could purchase publications on hundreds of topics cheaply, or, presumably, put your own up for sale, in English, Russian, Yiddish, or engage in heated discussion in these languages on any topic--is it any wonder that Chomsky grew up to be a linguist.
Why does it sadden? Because it has all been swept away. As have any other neighbourhoods like it.
For me, the Introduction to Skinner's book Linguistic Behaviour is what I most remember about Chomsky. Skinner had been the great anti-theoretician theoretician who was destroying all I felt was of value in my undergraduate career at the University of Toronto.
Chomsky's refutation of Skinner, all the details of which I have long forgotten, openned my life to the many possibilities that Skinner, and his undergraduate adherents, said never existed. It was the personal sacrifice of Chomsky to abandon full-time academia at MIT and become a sinister insurgent when he could be publishing academic works, and gather the rewards of the academic life, to write, and speak densely-thought words, and open up so much for so many.
Much of his work, in written form, and now on the net, can be found in ZMagazine, and at www.zmag.org.
See also Noam Chomsky on Private Tyrannies -- Corporations, Noam Chomsky On Capitalism, Noam Chomsky on Propaganda