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Akira Watanabe

University of Tokyo | Keep Thinking

Published onApr 19, 2019
Akira Watanabe
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Keep Thinking

When I was a graduate student at MIT, I found Noam saying in one of the interviews that you are thinking even in your sleep. I cannot locate it precisely now, but the passage containing the following quote from Interview 3 of the volume edited by Carlos Otero (Language and Politics) sounds close enough:

Sometimes, when I am sleeping fitfully, the problems that I’ve been working on are often passing through my mind. (p. 118)

This may or may not be what I read more than a quarter century ago. Perhaps it’s some other interview. It’s quite possible that he said similar things on other occasions as well.

His remark was simply puzzling to me at the time. Furthermore, the point is not something you would ask him about during meetings. There are more pressing questions for a graduate student. But one day, probably about ten years later, I came up with a new idea concerning the topic I was thinking about just while I was waking up in the morning. It was then that I understood what Noam was talking about. After this experience, I made it a rule to try to keep thinking about whatever I’m working on. This approach has helped me a lot. And we all know what happens in the case of someone like Noam.

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