Father, maternal grandfather, mother “centre of my orbit”, henry st. clair he was my friend, two-gun bob, auntie and me – 21st February 2020

The cacophony of modern life also stops us from listening. The acoustics in restaurants can make it difficult, if not impossible, for diners to clearly hear one another. Offices with an open design ensure every keyboard click, telephone call and after-lunch belch make for constant racket. Traffic noise on city streets, music playing in shops and the bean grinder at your favorite coffeehouse exceed the volume of normal conversation by as much as 30 decibels, and can even cause hearing loss.

– Kate Murphy (New York Times, Talk Less, Listen More)

First, please quiet the noise in my head.

The events of this past week have put me in a spin. Even as the sadness recedes somewhat, images pop up randomly, memories flicker; a pre-tear feeling appears in my chest and throat but is soon countered by my rationality and tucked back away.

While my mind wanders less there is a lack of clarity around my thoughts. A directionless, purposeless meandering. This is a different feeling to the one I was experiencing previously. Where I could sit in my class and concentrate with students running, shouting and screaming. Now it drives me crazy.

Image: Nick Blinko

All this adds up to limit my engagement, to cloud my listening ability. I can hear but I’m not listening.

Listening is a difficult skill to master. Made even more complicated by the sound-byte outrages of social media culture. I don’t feel that I have ever been able to listen properly. I want to practice the quietening of my own thoughts and be more fully engaged, whether in conversation, in watching videos and movies and to attempt that euphoric emotion when really listening to music.

I keep reminding myself to talk less, to shut up a little. Not to jump into what I want to say, to make my point or to win the argument. Just listen. And think.

Damn, this was hard to write today. It’s probably reflected in the scattered approach and execution. But every day I accept the challenge. Put words down on paper. Get thoughts out. Think, until clarity.

Hello and welcome to inconclusive arguments in today’s conference we have a psychologist, a guru, an athlete, a freak, a scientist, a dictator, an anarchist, a mass murderer, a composer, a human vegetable, and a complete outsider. let’s open the discussion with you, er huh what gives? that look of revelation on the athelete’s face – the complete outsider is the centre of attention – just what is the human vegetable doing to the psychologist, the freak is eating the mass murderer, o my god terrifying vistas of reality and our position therein are being opened up to us all, this is the worst thing that’s happened to mankind and in the studio they’ve opted for a new dark age but your commentator has gone stark staring mad.

– New Dark Age by Rudimentary Peni

Main image – Chris Neate

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