In March 24, 1983, the New York Times published the following interview with mathematician Robert Langlands (1936- ):
Q: What does a theoretical mathematician do?
A: You mean what does he do or why does he do it?
Q: What is your aim, your goal?
A: Let me think a minute before I answer that question. Are you asking, what is the purpose of theoretical mathematics? What role does it play in the lives of mathematicians or what are the individual’s motives?
Q: What does a theoretical mathematician do all day? What is the nature of his work? What is his pursuit, his activity?
A: All right, but of course there are many things one does. But you want to know what he does when he thinks?
Q: Yes, exactly.
A: Ah well, I’ve never been able to explain to anyone else, any non-mathematician, that to me at least the objects with which one deals are very real. But that’s not precisely an answer to your question.
The article stated that Langlands was struggling to answer the questions, though it can also be argued that he’s just not in the mood to answer the correspondent’s questions. So, was he really having a hard time or was he just messing with the interviewer? You decide.