Letters from the road: An interview with my friend Flink

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Mike: You look like one of the guys from Mythbusters. Are you?

Flink: Mike, I’d like to bust that myth! Although wait…

Mike: What?

Flink: No, you’re not gonna want to transcribe this … to bust the myth I’d have to set up an elaborate experiment, but I’m not an engineer, so we have here a paradox.

Mike: Who are you?

Flink: Who wants to know?

Mike: Pretend you’re telling my mom.

Flink: We having a complicated identity musing going on here.

Mike: Is everything okay?

Flink: I don’t like that question very much. Because either everything is too broad or it’s just slightly passive-aggressive.

Mike: I am not a good interviewer.

Flink: You are a very good interviewer. I’m just a challenging subject.

Mike: So I understand you have strong feelings on Noam Chomsky’s work. Unpopular feelings. Among linguists. We can go off the record if you want.

Flink: I think maybe I should just seize the pen. [Here Flink seizes the pen and the handwriting in the transcription changes.] First, any opinion about linguistics is technically an ‘unpopular’ opinion — or anyways a non-popular opinion. That said, I think his books Syntactic Structures (1957) and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax 1965) are brilliant books. However, his desperation for an abstraction has, I believe, prevented his work from substantive progress for decades now, and I find most of his dogma to be prima facie implausible — regardless of his pronouncements, “science” is not best served by thought experiment and increased levels of abstract analysis of models.

XO, Noam — Flink.

Mike: I think Noam Chomsky is probably a good (if frustrated) person.

Flink: His politics are good, but he has a reputation for … purging generations of grad students. But who knows, it’s all just gossip.

Mike: Do you think he’s unhappy?

Flink: I have never gotten that impression from anything he’s written.

Mike: In general, do you think there’s an overemphasis on happiness? In the culture at large.

Flink: Of course, but what the fuck else are you going to overemphasize?

Mike: I would say skateboard tricks and the Fast and the Furious movies.

Flink: That’s very ableist of you.

Mike: What does that mean? I think you have a bigger vocabulary than me.

Flink: Indubitably.

Mike: Ha ha ha.

Flink: Ableism is discrimination on the basis of physical ability.

Mike: I am having a hard time with this interview. Help me end it on a high note.

Flink: I think you’re doing very well.

Mike: Well, it’s been great having you in the studio today. Take care.

Flink: I apologize for at any point leading you to believe that I had anything interesting to say about Noam Chomsky.

Not my finest work.

A self-portrait by Flink.

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