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Monday, January 30, 2023


To Marc and Howie.  Those of the first coherent explanations of friction I have ever encountered. That still leaves the question of Noam's beard.


Marc Susselman said...

Prof. Wolff,

You're welcome.

I recommend that you and Susie watch the movie "Nine Days." I think you would both enjoy it - there is nudity, profanity or gratuitous violence. It is a thought-provoking fantasy, with a fantastic conclusion. it is available on hulu, or can be purchased from Amazon Prime.

Marc Susselman said...


"no nudity, profanity, or gratuitous violence" Omission of a single word makes a big difference.

DJL said...

This Twitter post seems to explain the origin of Chomsky's beard (see the first comment from the journalist Glenn Greenwald):

What makes the change of look the more striking for me is the fact that Chomsky has gone from living in Massachusetts to living in Arizona along with this beard.

Marc Susselman said...

Spoiler alert:

Below is a trailer to the movie “Nine Days.”

LeanMcHungry said...

Donald Trump explains Noam Chomsky's beard to Professor Wolff on ChatGPT.

Donald Trump: Hey there, Robert. Let me tell you about Noam Chomsky and his new beard. It's a disgrace, believe me. This beard is a sign of weakness, of poor judgment, of poor taste.

Robert Paul Wolff: Why do you think Chomsky has grew a beard?

Donald Trump: Well, Robert, it's simple. Noam Chomsky is trying to look like a religious leader, Moses, a wise man. He thinks he can fool people into following him, into believing his lies. But it's not going to work, Robert. It's not going to work.

Robert Paul Wolff: But why would Chomsky want to look like Moses, Mr. President?

Donald Trump: Who knows, Robert? Who knows what goes through the mind of a radical like Chomsky? All I know is that this beard is a bad look, a very bad look. It's not presidential, it's not American. It's a disgrace, Robert, a total disgrace.

Robert Paul Wolff: But isn't Chomsky a respected linguist and scholar, Mr. President? Isn't he one of the most important intellectuals of our time?

Donald Trump: Respect? Pfft. Chomsky is a fraud, Robert, a total fraud. He's been spouting his lies for years, trying to undermine America, trying to make us look bad. And now he's grown this beard, this religious beard, to try and make himself look like Moses. It's not going to work, Robert. It's not going to work.

Robert Paul Wolff: I see.

Donald Trump: Of course, Robert. I'm always happy to share my thoughts with winners like yourself. And when it comes to Noam Chomsky and his beard, believe me, nobody knows more than me.

Jim said...

Professor Wolff --

My thoughts on Chomsky's beard (why does this matter? I don't know.):

My thinking on Chomsky's beard really boils down to this. Chomsky is the kind of guy who can actually grow a beard. In other words, if he doesn't shave after a day or two, it gets out of hand. I am the opposite. I can go 4-5 days without shaving and exhibit minor stubble. As a consequence, I shave roughly two days a week tops to keep everything under control. Once a week if I push it (usually Sunday night). Now, I can't speak for anyone else, but I find shaving to be a major pain. It only takes about 10-12 minutes, but it is time taken that I would rather be doing something else. I believe that Chomsky made a similar decision as that of David Letterman once he retired from the Late Show. With no longer any more need to shave, Letterman stopped -- freeing up time for other activities. Chomsky did the same. I think it is that simple. I would do the same except for the fact that a beard makes my face itch terribly. And the fact that it makes me look older than I am. But why should I care about that? I surmise that those in their 90s don't really care about that. Too many other pressing issues of greater import to worry about.

-- Jim

Jim said...

Professor Wolff --

I would suggest that you even contact Noam and ask him about it. I am sure that he would be happy to talk to you. I used to live in the same town as Noam -- Lexington, MA -- and would occasionally see him on the street. As a rather uninhibited youth at the time, when I saw him (sometimes in Cambridge), I would ask him about Cuba-US policy or Nicaragua-US policy or East Timor, etc., and he was always happy to talk about it. I think he would appreciate hearing from you. Just a thought. I mean, what do you have to lose by doing so? You might be able to strike up a friendly correspondence.

-- Jim

Anonymous said...

But why still all the speculation about Chomsky’s beard if someone else above has already posted Greenwald’s comment about it, a personal friend of Chomsky’s and quoting directly from Chomsky himself?

Achim Kriechel (A.K.) said...

By the Beard of the Prophet!

does this ideom exist in English?

It is used to say that a statement is incontrovertibly true.

Besides, Chomsky fits better into Raphael's painting "The School of Athens", as a substitute for the old Plato in the center of the picture. Or maybe he should replace Diogenes the cynic, sitting lonely and alone on the stairs?

Marc Susselman said...

To be a beard, is to act as one’s companion. I first heard this expression in the Woody Allen movie “Broadway Danny Rose.”

Conversation recorded surreptitiously:

Noam Chomsky’s newly married bride:

Noam, will be my beard forever?

Prof. Chomsky:

I’d love to, honey.

David Zimmerman said...

Re "Beard" from Wikopedia:

"Beard is an American slang term describing a person who is used, knowingly or unknowingly, as a date, romantic partner (boyfriend or girlfriend), or spouse either to conceal infidelity or to conceal one's sexual orientation."

Therefore, the "conversation recorded surreptitiously" does not quite capture the meaning of the term in urban parlance.

Marc Susselman said...


Well, yes and no.

In a script written by Garson Kanin for Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, I could see Ms. Hepburn tongue in cheek asking Mr. Tracey if he would pretend to be her male companion forever, i.e., be her beard, and Spencer vigorously answering in the affirmative.

David Zimmerman said...

To Marc:

Well, that just shows that Katherine Hepburn, when provided dialogue by Garson Kanin, was not right about everything she said.

Marc Susselman said...

David, it's tongue-in-cheek wit, which Ms. Hepburn was very good at.

David Zimmerman said...

Well, then, Marc: There is no "no" about it.

Marc Susselman said...


David Zimmerman said...


You said "Yes and No" to the Wikopedia entry for "Beard." There is no "no."

Marc Susselman said...


I cannot spend much more time on this, but, you wrote, quoting Wikipedia:

"Beard is an American slang term describing a person who is used, knowingly or unknowingly, as a date, romantic partner (boyfriend or girlfriend), or spouse either to conceal infidelity or to conceal one's sexual orientation."

So, a person using the word “beard” as it is used in street parlance would be using the word’s pejorative context. That’s the “yes.”

However, a witty woman wanting to do a play on words could say to a person who is not her beard, that she would like him to be as if he were her beard, for the rest of her life. This would be the “no,” and how a woman with Ms. Hepburn’s wit and intelligence could use the word “beard” tongue in cheek. Given Noam Chomsky’s intelligence, I assume he married a woman also intelligent, as well as witty, who could also make the same play on words. It is a play on the pejorative sense of “beard,” but neutralizing the pejorative aspect with wit.

David Zimmerman said...

Marc-- You just never give up. Amazing.

Marc Susselman said...

Not when I'm right.

Anonymous said...

Some people are just never wrong?