At one point I moved to let someone off the train, which placed me in the path of a man holding a very large guitar case. He noticed the Chomsky, and told me that he had seen it at San Francisco's one and only City Lights bookstore. He also said that he'd recently seen the documentary "Manufacturing Consent," which is based on Chomsky's work. He briefly borrowed my copy (after I chirped, "Do you want to take a look?"), and he read while trailing his fingers line-by-line along the page.
I discovered Chomsky in high school, in an anthology of interviews published in Rolling Stone. Reading Chomsky--who has been one of the most trenchant critics of American power and pretension in the last 40 years--felt vaguely treasonous in Grove City, OH. But today it felt like par for the course in San Francisco, CA.
Back in high school I flirted with Chomsky but now he leaves me cold. (I didn't reveal this to my MUNI friend tonight.) I admire his rigor, passion, and courage. But his essays are so throroughly depressing and devoid of hope that they become a recipe for apathy (at least for me). Chomsky's refusal to abide by dominant notions ultimately feels forced and formulaic.
So I was reading Chomsky to reacquaint myself with his work, challenge my old perceptions, and figure out how to funnel all this into my essay. The MUNI moment was a bonus.