Mike: You look like one of the guys from Mythbusters. Are you?
Flink: Mike, I’d like to bust that myth! Although wait…
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.
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.