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Oh no, it's another dinner invitation from the Chomskys

by Franklin Albrow, Associate Professor of International Relations, Rutgers University.

Ah, dammit. Just when I thought they'd forgotten about me. I've managed to duck out of the last few of these little soirees, and for a while there I thought I was off their victim list. But now this. Another damn dinner party invitation from the Chomskys. Great, just great.

Okay, I know the guy's "arguably the most important intellectual alive" (thank you, New York Times) and he's, y'know, revolutionised the field of linguistics and fearlessly criticised American foreign policy in the face of opprobrium and outright hostility, but... have you ever been trapped in an actual conversation with Noam Chomsky?

These parties are murder, I'm telling you. They tend to invite someone like Robert Fisk just to lighten the tone. It usually starts out okay, as all the guests dig into their soup and try to avoid mentioning anything that'll set Noam off. But eventually somebody lets slip something about a recent trip to Mexico or how there's so many software programmers from India in the States these days, and that's that. He launches into one of these interminable routines about injustice or wilful media ignorance or the inherently unethical nature of capitalism or whatever, and whatever little atmosphere had built up by then just vanishes.

But it's the way he talks, too. Really measured and monotone, and you can see him almost making these little mental footnotes of further reading for you to follow up later if you've got a few centuries. By now, everybody's staring at their plates or just watching him, eyes glazed, nodding stupidly.

I usually pretend to have indigestion and run for the bathroom. Then I get my phone to ring and pretend I've suddenly got to dash home. But how many times can I pull that trick? And now with the recent events and all... I'm definitely not looking forward to next Thursday.




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