Victor Davis Hanson, classicist.

For obvious reasons there aren’t many speeches around on the internet at the moment, which is why I have been pondering on spreading the terms of reference of this blog, but meanwhile I did happen upon an interesting recent talk by a man who has been featured here before, almost exactly a year ago – Victor David Hanson.

I watched this largely for self-indulgence. I find the man interesting because he’s unusual in many ways. Merely being an academic who is openly conservative is out of the norm, but it’s more than that. He’s a walking, talking, thinking, writing, speaking, broadcasting intellectual who doesn’t inhabit an ivory tower, but gets dirt under his fingernails on his farm in California. That makes him feel more than most professors like a real person. I periodically dip into his podcast, The Classicist, where he discusses current issues against a background of his academic specialities, classical civilisations and warfare.

Here he is a guest of Pacifica Christian High School in their Great Conversations series, delivering in October last year a talk entitled The Demise of Classical Education, the Recovery of Greek Wisdom, and its Significance Today (not the catchiest title).

My rhetor hat is never far away so I immediately find myself trying to spot his Hump symptoms. Every speaker experiences the hump, but they get better at disguising it. It’s better for audiences’ enjoyment of speeches that they should not recognise the more subtle signs, so I’ll merely point out that he unnecessarily adjusts the microphone a couple of times. I am amused to see that I made the same observation on his previous appearance on this blog.

But I mentioned it really to point out to all speakers that they are not alone: everyone experiences the Hump – even speakers as good as this. The better the speaker the pickier I get and they don’t get much better than this.

Look at him speaking with his audience in the style of a fireside tutorial! Obviously he has no script or notes, because he’s a proper speaker, so nothing gets in the way of his relationship with his audience. Whether or not we agree with him he displays all the right speaking qualities like sincerity, honesty, command of his subject, and so on.

I’m enjoying it too much to allow myself to get picky. I’ll just leave you to enjoy it.

By the way, he speaks till 38:30, and then there’s about the same amount of time for Q&A which is every bit as interesting.

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