Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Studying figures of speech, and Rhetoric is a de facto study of human perception

Victor Davis Hanson on classical education
from The Daily Goose by Matthew
His piece from City Journal is worth reading several times (hat tip Drew Campbell).

This comprises a form of “media studies” because as one studies meter, metaphor, allusion, invective, and the hundreds more figures of speech, two things occur. One, one learns how to write more flexibly; and two, one learns the effects of figures of speech upon human perception and common sense. Why?

Because studying figures of speech is part of studying the subject of Rhetoric; and studying the subject of Rhetoric is studying what persuades people. And we all know that the study of what persuades people is so wedded to human perception so as to be functionally the same. Thus studying figures of speech, and Rhetoric more generally, is a de facto study of human perception.

Once one studies a discipline from both its concrete dimension and its “rhetorical” dimension, one is down the road of what, in the post-McLuhan age, is now called “media studies” and, when grouped with other disciplines and their media, “media ecology”.

Intuitively, but not at the time explicitly, understanding this is probably why I suggested to Dan Allison that classical education is the most seasoned and traditional form of “media studies”. And, at the very least, we continue to see how McLuhan insights continue to be a crucial bridge between classical education and contemporary fine artistry. Because without McLuhan, I don’t see how to make the connections between the study of classics and the kind of renewed study and practice of the fine aesthetics, of which, in my view, our society is in such want.

Without McLuhan, we have “many small creeks of water” in the fine arts and firm dams between what famous artists like Shakespeare “used to do” and what we fine artists today do. Whereas with McLuhan, we have A Mighty River of inspiration, insight, and intuition where we, today, can breathe the one and same electric air along with all the famous fine artists of our traditions.


  1. What a hoot, a stark raving mad psychotic war-monger talking and writing about the "virtue" of a classical education.

  2. And what is City Journal anyhow?

    It is an unabashed apologist and booster for all the "individual" and collective psycho-pathologies described by Lewis Mumford in The Pentagon of Power and Technics & Civilization.

    The dismal "culture" (or really "culture" of death) created in the image of modern psychic and heart dead techno-man and his drive for total power and control.