I seem to keep coming across new voices these days. People I’d never heard of before, and didn’t know they even existed until I somehow stumbled across them on the internet.
And they’re all people who are talking. And I think that maybe it’s only when people talk that they really come to life, and become fully rounded, real people.
Writing is a rather abstract process. It’s a way of recording talking, so that it can be sort of heard again by reading it. Mathematics is even more abstract, in that it’s a way of manipulating numbers, which are abstract things.
I suppose that poetry is another, and perhaps more intense, form of talking. And singing is the most powerful possible way of talking. Which is maybe why we remember singers like Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra, but don’t remember quite so many poets or speakers.
And discovering a new voice is a bit like hearing a new singer, one you’ve never heard before: Leonard Cohen singing Suzanne, or Johnny Cash singing Delia’s Gone.
The new voices have been people like Michael Savage, and Alex Jones, and Roger Stone, and Steve Pieczenik. Michael Savage has been banned from entering Britain, and that makes it all the more delightful to listen to him any time I like on the internet, a bit like you could listen to all the great music they never played on the BBC on pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline. In that respect it.s almost like a new 60’s era, but for people talking rather than singing.
It’s not that I agree with everything they say. In fact I very seldom entirely agree with them. But disagreeing with them makes them interesting. It’s a boring conversation where everybody agrees.
Another new voice is Jordan Peterson. He’s someone who I like listening to, but can never agree with. And that’s because he’s a psychological thinker, and I’m a physical thinker. What’s a Jungian archetype? How tall are they, and how much do they weigh?
Even more recently I’ve added Victor Davis Hanson, military historian and classicist. But I didn’t agree with everything he said either.
My latest discovery is John Taylor Gatto. He’s an award-winning NYC teacher. He must be aged about 80. In the video below he’s talking about how education stifles creativity. “Schools train people to fit into existing civil society.”
The video starts by showing the approach to his apartment, presumably somewhere in NYC. And when he speaks, it’s very slowly and deliberately.
Needless to say, I soon found myself disagreeing with some of what he had to say. Was it really necessary for “commercial society” to have a set of predictable consumers to buy the latest line of fashionable clothes? Was fashion as carefully planned and scripted as he seemed to think it was? Is it all really so carefully planned? Can nothing spontaneous be allowed to happen in commercial society, lest it throw all the planning out of whack. Can’t I have a second coffee? And a cigarette with it?
But, that aside, his central message – that school trained people to fit into society – was one that resonated with me. I have an unusual education: my own mother taught me to read and write, and to add and subtract and multiply and divide. She was by profession a teacher. She knew how to do it. She’d taught hundreds of kids to read and write. And she taught both me and my brother how to read and write because in quite a few places where were living, there was no school for us to go to. So I’d get taught sitting at the table in the dining room, rather than at a desk in a school classroom.
I spent very little time in schools before the age of about ten. And then I was thrown in the deep end, as a pupil in a Benedictine monastery school for 7 years. And then I spent the next indolent 10+ years as a university student.
Where did I learn the most? I learned most from my mother. The Benedictines added mathematics and physics that were beyond my mother’s range. And the university added more mathematics and physics, and computing.
Did I end up as well-trained cog in a machine? Not really. My education had been far too diverse and varied, in too many different places. I learned to read in Eritrea. And I learned long division in a little house in Niteroi, Brazil (something that I can only remember because, sitting at the dining room table laboriously dividing 378 by 42, I wondered why anyone would ever want to do something as utterly pointless as that). And I never lost my interest, in more or less everything. The world has never looked to me like any sort of known quantity. It’s always looked like a mystery.
I actually think that a lot of education provides people with tools that they may or may not wish to use later in life. I’d guess that most of my fellow school pupils at the physics classes of Father Paulinus probably never did any more physics for the rest of their lives. But I carried on using, and learning, both physics and mathematics. I’ve done so all my life.
Anyway, Gatto was yet another interesting and thought-provoking new voice. And all these new voices are found on the internet. You don’t find voices like them on TV, because they’re not saying what they’re supposed to. In fact, they only ever come to anyone’s attention precisely because they’re the silenced and suppressed dissidents of the Western world, much like Vaclav Havel or Alexander Solzhenitsyn were the silenced and suppressed voices of the Eastern world. And that’s what makes them interesting.
I look forward to discovering many more of them.