Sunday, December 13, 2009

Garden Noam

A garden variety gnome.


It's a humorous take on Noam Chomsky. I would hasten to declare that by no means do I consider him an intellectual gnome, though gigantor he is not. He has done some titanically interesting work in linguistics, but sadly, he is much better known for his gnomic expostulations in politics and the Middle East. The one side of his public persona casts a giant shadow over his achievements in his field of his bona fide expertise.

I subscribe to Bernard Lewis's judgment that:

" Mr. Chomsky's views on Middle Eastern history are about as reliable as my views on linguistics".

In that context, the Noam is aptly represented here----->


At 1:16 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

The difference between Chomsky and Lewis is that Chomsky deals in facts. Even the statue shows him carrying books. I would love to have that in my garden if there were such a one.

How right Edward Said was when he criticised the Orientalist "scholars " of whom Lewis is one. He didn't call them "ignorant" but rather they were "arrogant and contemptuous of Muslims, and disguised political agendas for scholarship.

Said and Chomsky, both scholars of linquistics approach foreign policy with an understanding that one cannot speak of the West and Islam. That is simplistic. Cultures are complex. There are significant differences between tribes, the wealthy and poor, educated and illiterate and secular and religious and within the religion there are liberals, literalists, fanatics and conservatives. Lewis comes from a wipe "them" out and like Bush, Perle and Cheney he knows nothing about who "them" is. And that is Chomsky's point.

At 1:45 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"The difference between Chomsky and Lewis is that Chomsky deals in facts."

How do we know that?

"Even the statue shows him carrying books."

Case closed.


Books, as we all know, always deal with facts.

Just out of curiosity: how many books have you read which were written by:



Edward Said?

At 4:48 PM EST, Blogger barry gillis said...

For me the lack of valid criticism and the abundance of personal attacks validate his views.

If he was a nobody talking from his behind nobody would bother giving him a podium.

If he is considered to be somebody and would make many factual errors some intellectuals would refute him and discredit him with the errors he made.

Instead there seem to be a hyperactive side of the political spectrum who doesnt seem to get any further than calling him names and suggesting that he is anti-semitic, a Nazi appeaser etc.

Seems like a basis to believe he has a relevant view to me.

At 5:39 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

Thanks for asking. And what have you read? I have only read Chomsky's books on linquistics. Needless to say I have heard him many times at lectures and a couple of debates, and read many articles.

I have read Said's "Culture and Imperialism," (interesting bit on Austen) "Literature and Society"and most of "Orientalism," but have referred to it often. I also have read many articles of his.

I have not read any books by Lewis, although I have "The Jews of Islam" and have heard him on TV, read articles and reviews of his books and read his comments about Chomsky.

(Case closed you say..I though you had a sense of humor. )

At 5:56 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...


You might want to read this:

Many scholars have engaged with Chomsky but for some reason you are ignorant of them or of these many occasions. I wonder why? Maybe the contempt you hold anyone who do not respect Chomsky's views obscures your vision?

It is one of Chomsky's staple tactics to indulge in ad-homs. His many followers are true to the spirit of Chomsky, I mean, the ease with which they mangle facts and slander those who disagree with them.

Here is one critic you might want to consider:

I wonder, barry, how came you to visit my humble blog, all the way from Holland?

At 2:35 PM EST, Anonymous Marcia ( Miner) said...

I am sorry you didn't answer. I would like to know what you have read of Chomsky and Edward Said for the same reason you asked me what I had read.

At 4:01 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

You remind me of a famous Israeli skit in which one bookseller educates another about intellectual hypocrisy:

You are at a party and someone asks if you read the latest from Aleph Bet Gimmel Dalet Hey Menachem.

you answer:

I bought the book, but have not yet got around to reading it...


So much for your "informed" opinion about Chomsky, Lewis, etc etc etc..

At 6:09 PM EST, Anonymous Marcia Miner said...

I gave you the courtesy to answer your questions. You did not answer in return.

The three distinguished men each have a political agenda and you and I admire the ones whose agenda most closely resembles our own politics. Surely you agree.

I see that the same interviewer you cited found Chomsky's book profound and enlightening and as such recommended it.

At 6:53 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

It was a strictly rhetorical question.

You need to go back and talk to your own friends, who think and talk like you and coddle your malevolent tongue when you say things like this about me:

"There is nothing like exchanging thoughts with a sociopath ... Even Mussolini got rid of the flies in Italy and Hitler loved dogs, children and built the autobahn and ordered the Volkswagon."

What are you doing in my blog?

Console yourself with the company you keep and resign yourself to the idea that some people will always see you as an out and out vulgarian. Don't come here expecting an intellectual exchange. You will not get it.

This comment will remain until you read it. Then it, and this thread, will be deleted; there is nothing in it remotely resembling any genuine interest.

At 10:16 AM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

Why do you read our blog and trash it over here when it has nothing to do with you? You are responsible for your behavior as I am of my...Delete..

At 10:30 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Where did I trash your blog? Silly woman.

At 10:48 AM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

I mean the forum, not my blog. I have a very nice blog and I think you even visited it once.

At 11:00 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

OK. Where did I trash your forum, then?

At 12:00 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

You come to the forum and come back here and trash what is said, making unpleasant comments about the people. I don't save everything, but you surely cannot deny you have an ax to grind with some of us. Why would you come there and report back here. You are free to do that, but you have to expect a reaction. I read your blog and enjoy it and when I disagree as people are wont to do where comments are permitted, I comment. Often I agree.

Here is a comment I copied..I don't keep records of your comments that you bring back ...

From anatomy of a slur..

"Here is an example, which I noted this morning, as I visited my favourite message board for observing the dynamic I described above in real time:__Poster A, speaking in her capacity as the board's one and only "asajew":__"... y'all need to see Jimmy Carter's interview on Charlie Rose tonight. It was jaw-dropping!

"So, the asajew spoke and quickly Poster B (who has been known to leave her comments on my blog from time to time) rushed in, not to doubt, examine, check, but to affirm:

At 12:21 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

Time to delete...its all ancient history

At 4:35 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

No. I reconsidered. With the addition of your last comments this thread is worth preserving after all, as a constant reminder of Einstein's famous maxim, that

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe"


Happy Wintervale, Marcia. May you live long and well to have many occasions to vent your silly grievances. I am all for universality and the right of anyone of be stupid, hypocritical, bellicose, ignorant and presumptuous if they must and still be free to proclaim those undervalued qualities as often as they need.

At 4:59 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

Thank you for the good wishes. I have lived long and well. I don't have any grievances that amount to much other than a few health problems which is inevitable, but annoying. I am sure we all have been stupid, hypocritical, bellicose, ignorant and presumptuous more often than we like. I don't claim to be an exception nor do I suppose do you. I am sure neither of us is as evil as we have portrayed the other.

I wish you and yours a happy season and a happy New Year.

At 7:20 PM EST, Anonymous TNC said...

"I have not read any books by Lewis..."

That says it all.

Said liked to present himself as a historian even though he had no credentials in the field. Lewis, by contrast, is an actual historian. And it shows in his writing.

Chomsky likes to present himself as an expert on, well, just about everything. He's a historian, a political scientist, an economist, etc, etc, etc. Many leftists seem to think he has a mastery of all these disciplines. He doesn't. I don't know a single reputable political scientist, historian or economist who cites Chomsky's political writings. They might agree with his perspective but they know better than to cite him as an expert in any of these fields.

He may be a top-notch linguist but his political writings are simply expressions of his personal opinion. People have routinely showed how the sources he cites do not make the claims that he presents in his articles and books. But people like Marcia and Barry continue to disregard these unpleasant aspects of their intellectual hero.

I have read Said's "Orientalism". It works as polemic, fails as history. I have also read selections from some of his other works. I was forced to by my professors.

I have read more Chomsky than I care to admit. What can I say? I was young and didn't know any better.

As far as Lewis, "What Went Wrong", "Islam and the West", and selections from his other works.

At 8:11 AM EST, Blogger ModernityBlog said...

I disagree, I think Chomsky is useful.

Chomsky is ideal for those who are intellectually lazy, a bit thick, in need of a Guru.

Chomsky provides a ready-made framework of thinking, so that his readers and acolytes don't have to actually think for themselves.

I too used to read some Chomsky stuff on Latin America, and to be honest I was a bit lazy and I didn't see through the political charlatanism that he often pushes.

But eventually, after running across Chomsky groupies (for whom Chomsky could do no wrong) I began to look at him more critically and the gaping holes in his own "insights" became apparent.

Particularly how part of his early career was funded by the DoD, his wealth and more importantly, politically the Faurisson case.

Later on if you follow him you can find him sucking up to a number of rightwing militia, etc in the Middle East.

However, to his followers Chomsky can do no ill, at least he saves them the time of thinking.


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