On our way to meet the person who would give him the guided tour, Chomsky looked exactly like any other almost-80 year old American tourist, in his jeans, with his bag and his baseball cap, although a curiously quiet one. The difference was all in the detail, as ever, in him asking me the right kind of questions in order to interpret the Old City around him. I was deeply impressed at how non-judgemental he was.
Later, over lunch, when his protocol host complained to him that he “disappointed some with his comments” (what a wonderful thing for a host to say and how very insightful in the case of Chomsky, too), I commented that the comments were greeted with a roar of applause. “Yes”, admitted the protocol host, “but many were disappointed, too”. Chomsky smiled whimsically and replied along the lines of not having been brought all the way to the Outpost to say what people would like to hear; his wife leaned towards me and whimsically whispered that “Noam is known to have caused controversy before”, somehow understating.
The one thing that perplexed Chomsky was the fact that student organisations are controlled by political parties in the Principality, “they act as the parties’ beachhead among young people”, I added. Of course, this is yet another rubbish thing Outposters have imported from Compatridia, I quickly added.
After that, the protocol host and some other protocol people switched to the local lingo and were discretely praising each other for having brought over “such a great thinker ” (helloooo, it was Great Westphalian who brought Chomsky over); they pointed out to each other that he is “a dissident” and that he has even opposed Israel, despite being Jewish (something unthinkable in the sheep pens called Principality and Compatridia, where we should all go ‘baa’ in the ethnically correct manner); the person having offered the delightful tour explained the amount of work being put into it, as its purpose was for “Chomsky to understand a couple of things about the place and its history”. Thankfully, I was there to talk to Carol Chomsky, explaining to her that she was not missing anything of note, and, crucially, the Floating Islander to talk to Chomsky.