Thursday, April 8, 2010

To tame the savageness of man

I went on a used-book binge last week on Amazon. Now I’m elbow-deep in good reading material, and I’m starting with:

The Last Campaign: Robert Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America

I first fell in love with Robert Kennedy in a course called Great Speakers and Speeches at UW-Madison. We dissected the
speech he gave in Indianapolis only a few hours after Martin Luther King, Jr. passed away.

Among the many things that are heralded about this speech, a few of my favorite anecdotes (and honestly, the ones I remember):
  • He wrote it himself because he felt he could connect with the audience best by speaking to his own personal experience with inexplicable loss and violence
  • The quote from Greek philosopher Aeschylus is considered improper by some rhetorical scholars because it was obscure and the audience would not have been familiar with it. However, Kennedy was known to carry around ancient Greek books on tragedy after his brother’s assassination, so I think it’s fascinating and inspiring that he pulled from something so deeply personal. My professor remarked that this is one of the very things that is wrong with many of today’s politicians and speakers- in an attempt to resonate with everyone, they end up losing themselves.
  • As he was speaking on the fly and from the heart, he actually butchered the Aeschylus quote. Today, that’s called a gaffe and it would take the MSM less than a minute of googling to tear him to shreds for it.
I am so nerdily excited to read this book, and to (a year and a half late, and a dollar short) more fully understand the parallels between the 1968 and 2008 elections that were oft discussed in Obama’s historic run.

Oh, and the Aeschylus quote was:

My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God


LH said...

I love this photo.
And that poem is going to stay with me I think.

KC said...

Did you take a lot of classes in rhtetoric? What was your major?

You liked Madison a lot, right?

Gina Marie said...


I was a Rhetoric major (rhetoric being one of 2 tracks you can take w/in UW's Comm dept) and also a Women's Studies major. I esp. loved rhetorical criticism classes b/c they were often tied in with political science classes.

I loved everything about Madison- the school, city, people, and vibe- but it isn't somewhere I would have wanted to stay after college, so I am happily back in the MSP for now (and probably for good).