Listen for follow-up questions, because when those dry up, that means your companion’s interest usually has, too.
The incredibly great thing about Quaker meetings is that everyone just sits there. Silently. And they talk only if the spirit moves them to talk. They only open their mouths if it improves on the silence. I’m gonna repeat that phrase because I love it so fucking much: “if it improves on the silence.”
When we were staying over at grandma’s house, when me and my brother and sister were getting annoying, we knew fun time was over when Grandma would say firmly, “Okay. Let’s play Quaker.” The three of us then groan and sigh and collapse on the floor, mortally wounded, sulky, resentful. Quiet time had begun. I hated that “game” so much. Mike Monteiro’s idea sounds good, though.
My readers taught me as much about listening and taking people’s problems seriously as anything I have ever done. They taught me the value of what kindness and generosity can do, not only for the person receiving it but for you who give. Of what happens when you give people the space to talk about themselves, and of how much guys will start to talk about their feelings if we give them space to do so.
It seems to me that the ears that are listening make more difference than the way the music sounds.
When people bypass simple solutions to write to someone like me, that tends to mean there’s an ulterior motive on board.
The best thing that hearing music can do for you is make you want to make your own. I find it close to absurd that some people are musicians and singers and others are silent apostles who never let out a peep, maybe not even in the shower. Music seems like a basic human right, much like the right to prayer and the right to fall in love.
A willingness to hear unwelcome truths is the unhappy person’s best friend.
Taking a moment to hunt for an interpretation that makes an argument good — before you denounce it as a bad argument — is a nice heuristic that forestalls the tempting leap from “There exists an interpretation that makes this a bad argument, but it may not be what he had in mind,” to “This is a bad argument!”
As certain foodies score points by having eaten everything—blowfish, yak milk tea, haggis, hot dogs—so the person who knows and likes all music achieves a curious sophistication-through-indiscriminateness.
Somewhat guilty as charged. See also Tyler Cowen on the internet and eclecticism.
I think painters and sculptors react to music, more naively, in a sense, because their politics are a lot different from our politics. It’s very hard for one composer to listen to another composer without somehow bringing his own mind-set to the music he’s listening to. It’s not that it’s impossible. And that’s only natural, whereas someone in another art field is going to listen to it very naively, in a sense (you hope), and that’s a worthwhile, unbiased opinion. Ultimately, it’s a naive opinion that rules the roost.
Music is not ruined by other people liking it. Discovering things for the first time can still be the source of great pleasure, even when everyone else in the world has already heard it.
Social media structures communication between friends so that the responsibility for listening — inescapably built into earlier mediums that structured talk between friends as person-to-person — is modulated into a vaguer injunction to respond if and when you feel like it. Because status updates and the like are not addressed to anyone specific, they don’t generate an obligation in anyone specific to pay attention.
I can’t believe that people really prefer to go to the concert hall under intellectually trying, socially trying, physically trying conditions, unable to repeat something they have missed, when they can sit home under the most comfortable and stimulating circumstances and hear it as they want to hear it. I can’t imagine what would happen to literature today if one were obliged to congregate in an unpleasant hall and read novels projected on a screen.