For an a near two hours, November 3rd 2011, my life experienced one of those cliche “life altering moments”. It was worth my month’s pay to buy plane tickets down to Sydney and see Chomsky, a hero, and idol, speak at his symposium – Problems of Freedom and Knowledge. This event signified Chomsky being a recipient of an Australian Peace Award. Eight significant points were raised, and I tried my utmost to scribe down as much as I could. I have decided to delve up my scribes from those three years ago, and share with you the movement that began to solidify my thoughts, and wants, to thrust linguistics into my vocation. The passion was already there, being on the end route of my honours degree, but I never imagined at the time that it would lead me to pursue a Masters in LIS.
Point One: Elite conceptions of national interest
Point Two: Illusion of Election of Barrack Obama in post 9/11 neo conservative realm
Point Three: 1996 ‘Fried Chicken’. Palestine and Israel
Point Four: Money and the ‘Occupy’ wallstreet movement
Point Five: ‘What could be bad about growth?’ ‘Are we breeding to extinction?’
Point Five: Wiki leaks and Anarchism. What do you mean by Anarchism?
Point Six: Free Speech and Democracy
Point Seven: The Brain – why it was important to acquire knowledge
Point Eight: Elite Academic Institutions, can they contribute to institutions or be a barrier?
Of the Eight points, the one of great significance to myself at the time was point seven on “the brain – why it is important to acquire knowledge”. Below is an attempted transcribe (with no editing) of Chomsky conversing over this topic, and how I interpreted the conversation made.
<<November 3, 2011>>
Point Seven: The Brain – why it was important to acquire knowledge. Some of the most promising influences began with 17 century Cartesian philosophy and Decartes whom was critical to distinguish creatures with minds and souls from those that didn’t (which by equated to mechanical). If they didn’t have a language creative capacity they were deemed as machines. Chomsky agrees with this thought. The crucial difference was from cause and appropriated for the capacity for expression neither externally or internally. This is the process of moral(s), cognition or activity. Again, Chomsky noted Adam Smith (‘Division of labor and wealth of nations’) for he (Chomsky) reflects that humans have a need to make activity. If an artist produces artwork as beautiful as a representation then we despise the artist as a tool, but if an artist can project artwork that is beautiful from within than we adore the artist. A note of classical liberalism and a break through of science, the willing to be puzzled – Galileo. There is additionally a mentioning of Aristotle. When you become puzzled you can break authority and realise you don’t know anything. In the 1950s languages was about when the obvious was not [thought of, significant, comprehended]. For example, take this sentence ‘ Can eagles that fly, swim?’ all rules of language observe structural distance, not linear distances – this is the property of all languages. Sound is consequently marginal, communication is marginal and apparently all is false for the tool for thought is the evolution of language. What is your must use of language? Answer: 99% talking to yourself. Final note in this section was on the creations of moral judgement.
If we fast forward to October 24, 2014, I must now add another two points of significance – one which is dear to many LIS practioners, point six on “free speech and democracy”. Below is a transcribe of my musings from the day (no editing), and the more Chomsky spoke, the more I now realise, some three years on, just how important Freedom of Information and Knowledge Sharing is so important for an LIS professional.
<<November 3, 2011>>
Point Six: Free Speech and Democracy. Why shouldn’t media be under the same scrutiny and balance as public media? In the U.S. there is a kind of balance in public media as ‘objectivity’ is taught in journalism schools, also known as ‘Inside the Belkway’. There is an expectation to report honestly and accurately. For example, present views of elite sectors objectively. Certainly, true, money shall talk but Chomsky is personally against regulation as whom would regulate, where would the money come from. He appeared more upset that money has power. Elections are increasingly being bought and policy being pursued is dependent on finances of the campaigns. Thus, there is no surprise to know Obama’s election was based on a small financial elite. You pretty much have to buy party chair as a member of congress. Media consequently is not very different from general electoral. There is a noteworthy book to look at ‘Principle Architects of Government Policy’ by Adam Smith. Nevertheless, to eliminate investment fractions we need to go after the neo-liberal problems.
Finally, the second point of relevance to me now is point eight on “elite academic institutions”. Below is a transcript (no editing) from the day, and one which contextually I see as a topic that is hot. Hot because the part of the LIS practioner to support a freedom of information can be threatened by institutions bound by public and private codes of practice. The notion to challenge conventional beliefs, aspire for innovation, and social creation and modification is similar to anarchism, but in the truest form. To question all. The power play is not meant to be an egotistical one for an LIS practioner, however, to fight for the preservation and conservation of languages, as it is just as important as fighting for social freedoms. Without language, the code to understand knowledge would die.
<<November 3, 2011>>
Point Eight: Elite Academic Institutions, can they contribute to institutions or be a barrier? 1950s was the freest period for research at Chomsky’s instutiton of MIT, funded by the pentagon. 1960s 100% funded by 3 armed services. Modern economy depends heavily on state intervention for most persons never used to ask questions ‘ your business was your business’. However, during the 1960s there was a small dozen of students participating in activism against this system and tried changing the atmosphere. They were successful by 1969 as the question was finally asked ‘should we be concerned how science and technology should be used?’. There was therefore social activism at MIT and a change from conventional dress, sex and ethnicity in the 1950s to now. This was due to the success of the small group of activists in the 60s. The result was the production of freedom as we cannot institute external control. Students are expected to challenge – ‘here is an argument to the contrary’ in sciences. E.g. creation of atom bomb. First questioning came out of Chicago (please where materials were designed and created) – ‘what are we doing’. The questioning wasn’t done until the bomb went off in Japan, from Alimoe (place where bomb was constructed) where a lot of self criticism occurred. This is the ‘sweetness of the problem, or ‘what is the purpose?’
The notes are in scramble, however, they reflect a moment of pure thought. There was no stopping the ideas, knowledge, and wisdom in which came from Chomsky. The day was beautiful, humble, and a memory which still carries with me as strongly as I entered the auditorium to see Chomsky in the flesh, and breathe the passion which struck each person in the room.