Words: its not what you say but how you say it

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Words: its not what you say but how you say it

Definitions:

insurrection
noun

1. a violent uprising against an authority or government.”the insurrection was savagely put down” Similar: rebellion, revolt, uprising, mutiny, revolution, insurgence. * late Middle English: via Old French from late Latin insurrectio(n- ), from insurgere ‘rise up’.

sedition
noun

1. conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.Similar: incitement (to riot/rebellion), agitation, rabble-rousing *late Middle English (in the sense ‘violent strife’): from Old French, or from Latin seditio(n- ), from sed- ‘apart’ + itio(n- ) ‘going’ (from the verb ire ).

rhetoric
noun

1. the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.”he is using a common figure of rhetoric, hyperbole” Similar: oratory, eloquence, power of speech, command of language, expression, way with words, delivery language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content. “all we have from the Opposition is empty rhetoric” Similar: bombast, loftiness, pomposity, boastfulness

jingoism
noun

Extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy Jingoists really dislike people from outside their own borders. Jingoism is an extreme form of patriotism that often calls for violence towards foreigners and foreign countries.

INSURRECTION DAY

I have woken up two mornings in a row with the word’s insurrection and sedition going around in my head – no pictures, just those two words. We don’t use these words every day. They are generally used for very specific activities, confined to textbooks and moments in history. I suppose (I know) that the storming of the Capitol building in Washington on January 6th was certainly one of those moments.

Rhetoric is a better known, well used word. It is or has been used a lot to describe Trump’s way of speaking. I don’t find Trump to be a clever man and I certainly don’t think he was ever meant for the highest office in the land, but his rhetoric and ability to entertain a crowd has got him a long way. He knows how to hold, manipulate and incite. This piece is not really about Trump, but I use him to demonstrate a point about words, how we use them and how powerful they can be.

It’s not what you say but the way that you say it…

Acting coach, Patsy Rodenburg, uses the analogy of three circles, she calls it Second Circle, to demonstrate to actors how to be ‘present’ in their performance but it is a fantastic way of describing how some people interact or communicate with the world. Those in the first circle are inward looking, not expressive, have low energy. Think Eeyore.

In comparison, those in the second circle are totally connected with the ‘give and take’ of being present in the ‘now’. They are engaged, aware, empathetic. Think Obama.

Then there is the third circle. This is generalised energy that pushes out. It’s in the body, in the chest. Think loud Shakespearian actor.

He knows all the lines, is very energised but hasn’t got a clue what he’s saying. Chest puffed out, full of bluster but no truth behind the lines – Trump! Classic third Circle. He has no connection or interest in the sentiment he speaks. For example, when dealing with statistics concerning the Covid crisis or having to convey advice of the medical experts, we could clearly see his energy was low and inward, his speech, monotone. Very first circle. However, when in front of a crowd of adoring fans, hanging on his every word, we see the third circle, external bluster- the entertainer. He feeds them what he knows they want to hear, and they feed his ego by chanting his own jingoistic phrases back at him. The jingoism and rhetoric he has used, very intentionally, has enabled him to manipulate his supporters. As we witnessed on ‘Insurrection Day’ he didn’t need to be explicit in his language for the ‘mob’ to march on the Capitol. They’d had four years of prepping and so needed very little encouragement. When all is said and done Trump knows how to use language for his own end. Plus, he gives his ‘fans’ what they crave, love and attention. Does he love them? No. Does he even like them? Of course not, but he knows how to manipulate them using repeated jingoistic catchphrases, like Make America Great Again. Its acronym, MAGA, is now used to describe the movement. He has used a dishonest but persuasive rhetoric for over four years culminating in a divided nation, a democracy in tatters and the death of five people. It’s not about what you say but how you say it and, boy, did he know what to say and how to REPEAT it.

So maybe it was about Trump…

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