Persuasive Speaker


Since May I have been commuting to work by train. There are ups and downs of this mode of transportation, but let’s focus on the ups.

  • time saving – as long as I’m going somewhere near a train station it is quicker to ride in a vehicle that doesn’t have the worries of stop lights.
  • predictability – as long as no typhoons, lightning strikes, earthquakes, or suicides occur, the trains run on a tight schedule so I know when I’ll arrive.
  • cost savings – buying a six-month train pass gives enough free rides to be cheaper than gas and tolls, not to mention wear and tear.
  • but more importantly – free time – while commuting by car, one has to watch the road, but on the train I can watch ink on pulp…

Lately I’ve been spending that ink/pulp time reading a little thousand page book written by a linguist in 1954. It is broken into six sections called books and I’ve just started Book 4, which begins with Chapter I – The Taming of Smeagol. Yes, that’s right: J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” is entertaining me while schoolgirls in the background mumble things like, “Oh! How cool! He can read English.”

Anyhow, a recently read section left an impression on me, so here it is for you:

The window closed. They waited. Suddenly another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell. For some the spell lasted only while the voice spoke to them, and when it spoke to another they smiled, as men do who see through a juggler’s trick while others gape at it. For many the sound of the voice alone was enough to hold them enthralled; but for those whom it conquered the spell endured when they were far away, and ever they heard that soft voice whispering and urging them. But none were unmoved; none rejected its pleas and its commands without an effort of mind and will, so long as its master had control of it.

Saruman of Many Colors was being described, but it made me think of popular politicians who make the oddest promises and requests and people enamored give support all too willingly. Maybe Tolkien should be required reading before receiving permission to vote.



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