Restoring the Sacred

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tom Wolfe on Intellectuals and People of Intellectual Achievement

Author Tom Wolfe was featured today in the Notable & Quotable section of the Wall Street Journal:
Nov. 1, 2015 5:06 p.m. ET
From an interview with author Tom Wolfe by the National Endowment for the Humanities, on the occasion of his being honored as the NEH’s Jefferson Lecturer in 2006:
"I make a distinction between intellectuals and people of intellectual achievement. . . .
"An intellectual feeds on indignation and really can’t get by without it. The perfect example is Noam Chomsky. When Chomsky was merely the most exciting and most looked-to and, in many ways, the most profound linguist in this country if not the world, he was never spoken of as an American intellectual. Here was a man of intellectual achievement. He was not considered an intellectual until he denounced the war in Vietnam, which he knew nothing about. Then he became one of America’s leading intellectuals. He remains one until this day, which finally has led to my definition of an intellectual: An intellectual is a person who is knowledgeable in one field but speaks out only in others."