Sadhguru!

Ever since I first found a speech by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and was turned into a fan, I feel a need periodically to bask in his pronouncements. I see it’s around twenty months since he was last on this blog. Sometimes, even when he’s speaking in English, I have barely a clue what he’s talking about and am forced (metaphorically) to run to keep up; but the sound and rhythm of his speaking relaxes me.

In today’s treat he is sitting and addressing rank after rank of devotees, talking about Yugas which I gather to be epochs, and more than that I can’t tell you. I am ignorant as a babe in arms. Perhaps when/if I retire I shall find the time to learn more about Hinduism. Meanwhile …

The atmosphere is highly ceremonial, and not just because of the periodic emergence of sitar music which has obviously been dubbed in. He begins with a chanted prayer, but then he always does that – it’s his version of what I call a James Bond opening; and when the chanting morphs into speech there remains a sense of ritual, a set piece. His delivery is part intoned, part spontaneous.

Though I itch to close my eyes and just immerse myself in the words, the sound, the atmosphere, I remain one who studies every detail of public speaking and therefore always has a part of me analysing the mechanics. For instance there’s something slightly incongruous about his wearing a wristwatch – and that wristwatch in particular. Not for a second would I deny him the right to a wristwatch: it just seems in this environment to clash with the image being projected by that beautiful robe.

Speaking of the robe (it’s not the same as in that ‘still’ you can see above), it may be beautiful but it keeps slipping down and exposing his left nipple. Not for a second would I deny him a left nipple, but the robe-slippage seems to bother him a little.

Actually in the process of constantly having to adjust his clothing he occasionally gives us a glimpse of the control box to the radio mic that is hidden somewhere in those robes to the right of his left nipple. Its presence would be even more incongruous than the wristwatch, except it is not constantly on show. In fact I suspect that the ranks of devotees never see it – unlike the left nipple. And anyway even without seeing it – the control box – we would work out that something of that nature would need to be about his person.

Despite my pathological inability to enjoy this without also registering such details, I find the whole thing hypnotic. What a wonderfully relaxing and spiritually refreshing way to spend the best part of an hour!

There are at least another dozen in this series.

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Marie Waters trusts the people

Anne Marie Waters (hereinafter AMW) spoke at a meeting in Oxford on 30 May this year. Was it at the Oxford Union? The panelling in the background suggests it was, though Oxford presumably has other panelled rooms. She has been on this blog before.

If you click the link on her name (above) you will be taken to a Wikipedia page in which you will be fed a stream of pearl-clutch nuggets, including “far right”. I no longer know what “far right” means, though recently the most consistent definition I have found is “having views at odds with the bigotry of the Guardian and the BBC”.

This morning I saw that Twitter has suspended her account. I wonder whether this says more about the Establishment in general and Twitter in particular than about her.

Let’s see for ourselves whether she has horns, a forked tail, and spews out violent hate.

[The speech ends at around 44 minutes, after which there are questions.]

For three decades I have been coaching people in public speaking, during which time the fashionable speaking style has become steadily less formal. I welcome this movement, because it counters what in my book I call The Communication Paradox. Briefly this states that the better you are at communicating across a table, the more difficulty you have on a speaking platform. I urge my trainees to think in terms of speaking with their audience as distinct from speaking to or – worst – speaking at.

AMW speaks with her audience. She has pushed the boundaries of speaking informality as far as I have seen. She addresses her audience as you would if talking to friends in your kitchen. The audience embraces this to such an extent that we hear her speech punctuated by audible comments, one of which begins a digression so egregious that we can see that a chunk has been edited out.

On her previous visit to this blog I described AMW’s speaking as having undisciplined passion. Here she has introduced a small measure of discipline, though the speaking is still messy. The interesting thing is that the mess is a key part of its strength. The obvious lack of polish screams sincerity. You can search as hard as you like, but I contend that you will find no signs of artifice; so we are left with the conviction that though we might disagree with her she means what she says.

So what does she say? Do we hear hate? Do we hear swivel-eyed extremism? Do we hear Nazi propaganda? Is she urging us to wear masks, riot in the streets, set fire to cars?

No, she is telling us to trust the people.

HOW DARE SHE!

Hillel Neuer: Face and epistrophe.

As recently as July we looked at a speech from ten years ago in which Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of United Nations Watch, delivered a “stunning rebuke” to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

UN Watch has a clear mission “to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter”.

In March 2017 Neuer was at it again, and this time his short speech was made memorable by the use of two rhetorical devices, and devastatingly powerful with a third.

You may like to open my Glossary page now – and keep it open.

The speech has a Face

Where are your Jews?

He uses that Face as the repeated element in an epistrophe.

The entire speech – Face, epistrophe, and all – amounts to a rhetorical question. He throws over the whole place an impenetrable blanket of silence.

I tell my trainees that disciplined passion is worth buckets of technique. Here we have both of those deployed to astonishing effect. It’s a brilliant piece of speaking.