Learning to Listen (2)

Just read this and think it’s an excellent fictional illustration of someone who learned to listen:

“I’m Homer, the blind brother.  I didn’t lose my sight all at once, it was like the movies, a slow fade-out.  When I was told what was happening I was interested to measure it, I was in my late teens then, keen on everything.  What I did this particular winter was to stand back from the lake in Central Park where they did all their ice skating and see what I could see and couldn’t see as a day-by-day thing.  The houses over to Central Park West went first, they got darker as if dissolving into the dark sky until I couldn’t make them out, and then the trees began to lose their shape, and then finally, this was toward the end of the season, maybe it was late February of that very cold winter, and all I could see were these phantom shapes of the ice skaters floating past me on a field of ice, and then the white ice, that last night, went gray and then altogether black, and then all my sight was gone though I could hear clearly the scoot scut of the blades on the ice, a very satisfying sound, a soft sound full of intention, a deeper tone than you’d expect made by the skate blades, perhaps for having sounded the resonant basso of the water under the ice, scoot scut, scoot scut.  I would hear someone going someplace fast, and then the twirl into that long scurratch as the skater spun to a stop, and then I laughed too for the joy of that ability of the skater to come to a dead stop all at once, going along scoot scut and then scurratch.”  (E.L. Doctorow, Homer & Langley–not recommending the book, but it is a great description . . .  )

Learning to listen


I’m a firm believer in the importance of really seeing and really listening.  Our world is filled with too much artificial noise, and it’s all too easy to miss the very important.  Here’s a fascinating piece about listening:

Close Listening: How Sound Reveals The Invisible

Pinch has made a career of studying how scientists listen. He notes that listening has certain advantages over vision. “The visual field is kind of in front of us — like a kind of screen,” he says, while sound is “all around.”



I was glad to. After all,
it would be just him and me in the cab
together for eight whole hours,
talking. He’d been away at college
for four whole years, text-messaging
every now and then, and now
I expected some full sentences.
That was the deal. In return
we’d use my credit card and I would drive
him and all his worldly possessions
home. Somewhere around Delaware
the mirror on the passenger side
starting turning inward against the wind
and I couldn’t see, and it wouldn’t
stay when we opened the window
and readjusted it. I told him
to take off his shoes and give me his laces,
and I’d pull over and tie the mirror
to the antenna to keep it from drifting.
He asked me why his shoes and not
my shoes? It was a good question,
the kind of question you might debate
in a sociology class in college
if you were still in college. But we were
speeding down I-95 in a U-Haul
with one functioning mirror, a resourceful
father at the wheel, a credit card
in his pocket, his thumbs keeping time
to an old-fashioned song in his head
that only he could hear, and a son
drowning out that song now, turning
the radio on. Loud. Louder. Silently
bending down to untie his shoes.

“U-Haul” by Paul Hostovsky from The Bad Guys. © Future Cycle Press, 2015. Reprinted with permission.  (buy now)

The Option of Enjoying One’s Time.

Originally posted on An Ignoble Pilgrimage:

I have been reading a bit of E.B. White lately. I tend to slip into two modes when reading a book, sometimes I scarf it down as quick as possible, unable to put it away foregoing sleep, and all other activities till it is finished. The other way is more slow and luxurious, like sipping on a fine whiskey, or having a conversation with a pretty girl. E.B. White is definitely the latter, not a pretty girl, but a much richer experience, one that where I only go a few pages at a time, and really just relish the way he puts words together. It’s also a refreshing outlook on life he has,

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
― E.B. White

I suppose…

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