Real-life Speakers?

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Real-life Speakers?

Postby UnnDunn » Mon May 19, 2008 9:16 pm

Do they exist? Has anyone met one or retained one's services? Has anyone tried to do Speakings?

Just curious. I've often thought it'd be cool to have someone do a Speaking of me...

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Postby zeroguy » Mon May 19, 2008 11:56 pm

I think OSC has said he's had people write to him, saying they've done actual Speakings for people. I don't know anything more than that, though.
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Postby Eddie Pinz » Tue May 20, 2008 7:02 am

We once had a fellow join Pweb that said he was trying to start a Speaking religion. It lead to quite an "interesting" discussion. I can't remember what his username was or when the last time he was around. I'm sure Kimmie(powerfulcheese) would remember.

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Postby Gravity Defier » Tue May 20, 2008 9:55 am

On a seperate note: NOOOOOOOOOO! We don't have the Speaking argument with Plum anymore. I'm so sad.
From the Back in the Day thread in Milagre.

Plum wasn't his username, though, was it? I'm hoping that was a (weird) nickname.



I've read about people doing "Speakings," mostly over at Hatrack I think. I like the idea of a speaking in the books, but in real life? God, what my grandma told me about my grandpa after he died is enough to convince me that ignorance is bliss in some cases.
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Postby Eddie Pinz » Tue May 20, 2008 10:42 am

Yeah Plum!!

No, that wasn't his username. That was a Kimmie nickname. His username had something to do with "Speaker for the Dead", but I can't remember excactly what it was. Shame that we don't have the arguement anymore.


Speaking is a noble idea, but I think that it would be too real for some people. I mean everyone has their secrets and they are secrets for a reason. I wouldn't want anyone speaking for my funeral. Well, I guess at that point I would be dead so I really wouldn't care. But I definitely wouldn't want it done at anyone's funeral that I was close to. It could change your whole view about somebody in an instant.

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Postby Pixel » Tue May 20, 2008 3:29 pm

I think it'd work well for politicians, leaders, criminals/prisoners, etc., but not for everyday people.

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Postby Gravity Defier » Tue May 20, 2008 4:00 pm

I think it'd work well for politicians, leaders, criminals/prisoners
What makes you think that?
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Postby Jayelle » Tue May 20, 2008 6:14 pm


No, that wasn't his username. That was a Kimmie nickname. His username had something to do with "Speaker for the Dead", but I can't remember excactly what it was. Shame that we don't have the arguement anymore.
It was SpeakerftDead. I'm 90% sure.
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Postby zeroguy » Tue May 20, 2008 10:46 pm

Speaking is a noble idea, but I think that it would be too real for some people. I mean everyone has their secrets and they are secrets for a reason. I wouldn't want anyone speaking for my funeral. Well, I guess at that point I would be dead so I really wouldn't care. But I definitely wouldn't want it done at anyone's funeral that I was close to. It could change your whole view about somebody in an instant.
Isn't that the point? Even though I'm usually a very private person, I wouldn't mind having myself being Spoken about after I die*. Part of the fun would be that most people would think very, very differently of me, depending on how good the Speaker was at finding info.

* I don't have a particular desire to have that done, though, or anything. Not enough to actually request it, or anything, at least.
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Postby Eddie Pinz » Wed May 21, 2008 7:04 am

But look at the fiasco that happened at the speaking of Novinha's husband (I always forget his name). I think secrets like that could come out at real speakings and tear apart the people attending. I know that this is an extreme example, but still.

I think that if Speaking became organized, it would degenerate to "Let's find out what secrets this bastard was hiding" instead of "Let's find out who this person really was."

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Postby Pixel » Wed May 21, 2008 3:44 pm

Think about the book The Hegemon. That was for a world leader.

Dunno why, but I think it'd only really be effective if the leader/politican was generally hated or really generally loved. Like, to either extreme. Not in between. Because then the absolute truth and history would give some cause for the actions they did, why they were so good or so bad.

Also, I agree. It'd be more of a press/media scandal thing then actually loving. The truth would get out into the newspapers and such and just make a fool out of the person spoken for. Unfortunately, that is the world we live in.

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Postby Gravity Defier » Wed May 21, 2008 3:51 pm

Because then the absolute truth and history would give some cause for the actions they did, why they were so good or so bad.
I am of the belief that there isn't a soul on this earth that is even remotely good enough at finding the absolute truth about any one person.

People are too good at convincing themselves that lies are truth; espeically people in the positions you mentioned. That's practically the job of politicians, right? To diplomatically lie to people with a smile on their face? I have little faith in their stopping that habit when they're no longer at work. Who's to say a person attempting to speak wouldn't just be revealing different/new lies to the public?

I think there's way too much room for error for this to ever be a good idea, much as I like the idea in the book.
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Postby UnnDunn » Wed May 21, 2008 8:15 pm

But look at the fiasco that happened at the speaking of Novinha's husband (I always forget his name). I think secrets like that could come out at real speakings and tear apart the people attending. I know that this is an extreme example, but still.
Well that was because of the sheer magnitude of the lies Novinha told and the secrets she kept. I know families have drama, but I doubt many families have drama like that.
I think that if Speaking became organized, it would degenerate to "Let's find out what secrets this bastard was hiding" instead of "Let's find out who this person really was."
Well, the Internet is remarkably good at rooting out the kinds of people who would practice the former instead of the latter.

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Postby zeroguy » Wed May 21, 2008 9:24 pm

But look at the fiasco that happened at the speaking of Novinha's husband (I always forget his name).
Marcão (forget his real name; that was a cruel nickname, right?). You would have preferred Ender never having Spoken?
Because then the absolute truth and history would give some cause for the actions they did, why they were so good or so bad.
I am of the belief that there isn't a soul on this earth that is even remotely good enough at finding the absolute truth about any one person.
Probably because it doesn't exist.
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Postby Janus%TheDoorman » Wed May 21, 2008 9:29 pm

Speaking ever only seems to be done by request, and I imagine that Speakers would develop reputations and codes of integrity the same way journalists do, over time. Sure, you get people who lack the proper integrity, but I'd be more worried about people fabricating lies, etc. to raise their own prestige as Speakers, for whatever reason.

I think, ultimately, it might work, though for the people whom need a Speaking most, politicians, public figures for whom image can often cloud reality in public, things might get sticky. A family looking to protect and preserve such an image would only select a Speaker who was known for being able to do such, assuming Speakers were all independent, and I expect they might be, or quickly splinter into in the US, at least.

The only way to do things properly would be to have a single, unified Speaker's Guild, or something similar, and rather than having Speakers personally requested, a generic request could be submitted, etc.

I think you'd still see some corruption, but more on the side of shielding images rather than tearing people down. It'd be hard to find the sort of people with the solid commitment to truth that Ender, and other Speakers need to do their jobs properly.
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Postby zeroguy » Wed May 21, 2008 9:56 pm

Speaking ever only seems to be done by request
By the deceased (before they died, obviously) or by, say the family? Are you talking about in the books, or in the (few) Speakings in real life?
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Postby Birdshine » Wed May 21, 2008 10:11 pm

I don't know, I'd certainly love to have someone "speak" at my service, but I don't I'd want it to be the entire service. It seems like an interesting tradition to get started, though I'm sure it would offend many people. How would you even go about finding the truth? Not all people are as insightful as Ender, or have access to every bit of data committed to computer. It seems like speaking the absolute truth would be a near impossibility.
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Postby UnnDunn » Wed May 21, 2008 10:15 pm

I think there's way too much room for error for this to ever be a good idea, much as I like the idea in the book.
Would it matter though? I mean, even the Speakers in the books were only giving their particular interpretation on events. Yeah Ender's interpretation was largely (and uncannily) accurate, but he wasn't the only--or, arguably, the first-- person to do a Speaking, and I think it'd be unrealistic to expect every single Speaking to be 100% accurate.

I think as long as the Speaker's motives are pure and (s)he's skilled and/or tenacious enough to do a thorough job, any errors can be excused. Not that Speakers should just go in and make stuff up, but that factual accuracy should merely be the means, not the end.

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Postby Janus%TheDoorman » Wed May 21, 2008 10:38 pm

zero, I'm talking specifically about the books there, but I imagine the practice would carry over into real life. I'm tired, but I'll likely write more in this topic tomorrow, and try to be clearer.
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Postby Gravity Defier » Thu May 22, 2008 12:06 am

Would it matter though?
To me, yes. I don't think even well meant interpretations are fair.

I typed a much longer response, but re-read the thread and felt better after reading something Janus said.
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Postby Eddie Pinz » Thu May 22, 2008 8:44 am


Marcão (forget his real name; that was a cruel nickname, right?). You would have preferred Ender never having Spoken?

If I was one of the characters in the family, then yes I would have probably preferred that Ender didn't speak. Ender stuck around to help rebuild the family, but I doubt every Speaker would do that.

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Postby Gravity Defier » Thu May 22, 2008 4:02 pm

Marcão (forget his real name; that was a cruel nickname, right?)
His real name was Marcos. Cão means dog in Portuguese, if I'm remembering that correctly.

All this activity over here is making me want to reread the Ender saga. Maybe even *gasp* the Shadow series, but only because I remember close to nothing about it.
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Postby starlooker » Thu May 22, 2008 4:12 pm

*shrugs*

It's all stories anyways. What matters is which stories you believe. (Was that a quote from Valentine? Novinha? One of them. From Children of the Mind).

This is what I believe. I don't think there is ever a single, absolute truth about anyone's life. We constantly make up stories about ourselves and each other. Ender, too. Even Ender told a truth, not the truth.

I do think that some stories are better than others (as judged by depth, complexity, elegance of theory, fit with records and facts and agreement between persons). However, the mystery that is the person sitting in front of you (whoever that person may be) is never something that any one person can entirely grasp.

Speakers? Maybe. As long as they don't advertise themselves as telling the one and only truth. As long as it's a truth, a new spin, something meaningful and worth telling about. But I think it should deepen the sense of mystery, somehow, rather than letting people think, "Now I know! Now I know this person's dirty laundry, and so I know them!"

I don't know if I'd want it done, myself. I like having secrets and control over my secrets. My favorite Dead Like Me characters these days is Roxy. I feel like her, the way she'd tell people who were assuming too much that, "You don't know me."
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Postby neo-dragon » Thu May 22, 2008 4:24 pm

*shrugs*

It's all stories anyways. What matters is which stories you believe. (Was that a quote from Valentine? Novinha? One of them. From Children of the Mind).
It was Val. I just happened to read that chapter last night.

As for the whole idea of Speaking in real life. I don't think that it would work. I don't think that there are very many people (if any) in this world who could actually understand a fellow human being as well as Ender could, and I really don't think that many people can appreciate what a Speaking really is.
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Postby Darth Petra » Thu May 29, 2008 9:45 am

After reading SFtD, my life's desire was to be a Speaker. And I wanted to be a Speaker until I re-read The Count of Monte Cristo, and decided I wanted to be "just like Edmond Dantes". Now, I've recently read The Three Musketeers, and now my life-long dream is to be a musketeer.

So now I've settled on being:

The Swashbuckling Count Petra of Lusitania!
Last edited by Darth Petra on Sun Jun 01, 2008 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Gravity Defier » Thu May 29, 2008 4:27 pm

So now I've settled on being:

The Swashbuckling Count Petra of Lusitania!
Your avatar makes that statement all the more perfect.
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Postby MaryOutside » Sat May 31, 2008 3:24 pm

Good fiction, I think, is hyperbole, is magnification of true things. So, I think, instead of having to wait for someone to up and DIE to try and understand what their life was about, I think we can Speak everyday, we should strive to see the truth of a person while we can still be a part of the living being. That is, not to tell everyone all the lies and stories and complexities of an individual, but try to see the person as a whole, as a sum of choice, of balance, and of justifications. Morals and causality...understanding and compassion. These things don't have to wait for someone to die to be understood, or at least it'd be nice if such a thing were so...

...but that's the lesson I got out of the books, anyway. That little deaths happen all the time, all around us, and we can hopefully be mature and loving enough to understand.
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Postby UnnDunn » Sat May 31, 2008 6:36 pm

The only way to do things properly would be to have a single, unified Speaker's Guild, or something similar, and rather than having Speakers personally requested, a generic request could be submitted, etc.
Oh god no; then Speaking would become a religion, and Speakers would become celebrities or something.

One of the core tenets of Speaking (in the books) is that there is no governing organization. The only thing that qualifies one as a Speaker is that (s)he Speaks and is invited to Speak again.

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Postby zeroguy » Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:16 am

Oh god no; then Speaking would become a religion, and Speakers would become celebrities or something.
Well, it is a religion in the books. Officially, anyway.

And since I have my copy of SftD handy, I thought I'd share some stuff I was thinking about earlier, but couldn't remember too accurately. I realize this is a bit much to reproduce... I'm assuming nobody will care, and it does pretty much show OSC's opinion on this, at least at the time. From the introduction to the "Author's Definitive Edition" I apparently have:
I have written of this at greater length elsewhere; suffice it to say that I grew dissatisfied with the way that we use our funerals to revise the life of the dead, to give the dead a story so different from their actual life that, in effect, we kill them all over again. No, that is too strong. Let me just say that we erase them, we edit them, we make them into a person much easier to live with than the person who actually lived.

I rejected that idea. I thought that a more appropriate funeral would be to say, honestly, what that person was and what that person did. But to me, "honesty" doesn't simply mean saying all the unpleasant things instead of saying only the nice ones. It doesn't even consist of averaging them out. No, to understand who a person really was, what his or her life really meant, the speaker for the dead would have to explain their self-story -- what they meant to do, what they actually did, what they regretted, what they rejoiced in. That's the story that we never know, the story that we never can know -- and yet, at the time of death, it's the only story truly worth telling.

I have received several letters, by the way, from people who are called upon to speak at funerals from time to time, and who, having read Speaker for the Dead, make an effort to turn the funeral service into a Speaking. I hasten to add that they have done this either with the permission of the family or at the urging of the deceased (given, obviously, before death!). Some of them have even sent me the text of their Speaking and I must tell you that the stories thus told are astonishing and powerful. I hope someone will do a Speaking at my funeral. I think there really is power and truth in the idea.
Does anyone know what he's referring to when he says he's "written of this at greater length elsewhere"?
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Postby Luet » Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:39 am

I don't know but he seems to be referring to having spoken of the topic of funerals, so maybe it was in a Mormon publication?
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Postby Darth Petra » Sun Jun 01, 2008 6:28 pm

I suppose you could speak for the dead racoon on the side of the road, instead of waiting for a person to die...

But I'd rather have a speaking than a normal funeral, as is stated in my will (too bad only one of my witnesses is human). I'd rather have an honest telling of my life than sappy crap with weeping people.
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Postby powerfulcheese04 » Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:27 pm

Oh, man! I missed this thread for a while!

Alea summed up my objections to Speaking.

It's a really great idea in the books. However, due to the incredibly fallible nature of regular humans, I think that in reality it would be really bad.

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Postby neggiw redne » Mon Feb 16, 2009 7:10 pm

there is one person i know that can, and has done a speaking. he was a philosopher by nature and his friend whom had an abusive father died at a young age. this was all about 3 months ago, perhaps slightly longer. i think that he did quite well at exposing the truth, and i did think differently about herman(the boy who died). however i understood what his life was like, and that he was not a bad person.

the speaker i'm talking about was only able to do his job because he knew herman, i could never speak for someone i don't know and i agree that no one except ender can truly understand another human being - unless they had known each other well.
person 1: "goodbye cruel world!"

person 2: "no, don't kill yourself!"

person 1: "i won't, it's the world that i'll kill"

person 2" "NO! YOU CAN'T!"

person 1: "correction, i couldn't. but you failed to destroy the little doctor"

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Postby buckshot » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:52 am

Our economy needs a speaker now , the new Starways Congress is going to commit Xenocide on America!!! :wink:
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Postby Bryan Christopher Sawyer » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:46 am

I think it's worth mentioning that the Speakers don't tell every dirty little secret. An important part of speaking is that it isn't done for the dead, it's done for the living, to help them reconcile some feelings toward the dead, close the books on some chapters of their own lives, and ultimately to give closure to those who'se lives were affected, for better or worse, by the dead.

It doesn't involve telling about all or even most of that person's mistakes. Just explaining the flaws in their character, weighing it against their virtues to show the measure of the person, and how those at the speaking can understand this to make their own lives better.

That's the purpose of a speaking. I think the one group that would like this the most is the politically organized Skeptics. Like the ones who are members of Skeptic societies. Speaking is secular, but with all the feeling of sacredness you might get from a religious service, and skeptics often engage in that sort of thing, even forming groups that are tax exempt.

I'm a skeptic myself, though not very politically active. I'm a conservative and I'm alright with my money saying that we're one nation under God, even if I don't believe in the supernatural.

But my father was a minister. So was his father. Protestants, mind you. I come from a family of WASPs. My father used to tell me about the approach he'd use with different families, some who were believers, others who weren't. In one case he was asked to do a funeral for an unidentified woman in central Pennsylvania, but finally the woman was identified and the family took charge of all that - they had a funeral in her home town with their family minister.

Having an insider's view of how someone deals with the dead who were known to have flaws is important to a minister in any religion, and their aim is to be discreet and ultimately to help the family and friends.

I think I could probably do a speaking. I wonder about who would ask for one. That's the real question. The idea that it would degenerate into digging for dirt is just silly. Because it rarely does now, when similar ceremonies take place.


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