The Art of Listening

During the STATE OF THE UNION delivery day, all of my senses were stimulated; sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing.  My next two posts have to do with sound.

Renee Petropoulos is a contemporary artist who is primarily a painter, but who is also a member of SASSAS, The Society For The Activation Of Social Space Through Art And Sound.  Renee was one of my instructors at Otis College of Art & Design and I was honored to have her as part of the STATE OF THE UNION project.


Renee’s art piece had to do with listening.  She brought two books with her, Thoughts of Sorts by Georges Perec and Coming to Writing and Other Essays by Helene Cixous.  She said to me, as she sat down, in thinking about the project, she felt I needed to be read to.


Thoughts of Sorts; is a compilation of musings and essays attempting to circumscribe, in Perec’s words, my experience of the world not in terms of the reflections it casts in distant places, but at its actual point of breaking surface. Perec investigates the ways by which we define our place in the world, reveling in list-making, orientating, classifying.


Coming to Writing and Other Essays is a collection of six essays in which Cixous explores how the problematics of the sexes – viewed as a paradigm for all difference, the organizing principle behind identity and meaning – manifest and write themselves in texts.

Renee claimed that she had randomly picked parts of the texts to read to me, but as with all forms of art, what we bring to it is what makes it relevant to us at any given point in time.  Language in particular is a living medium and as I sat there listening to Renee read, I realized how much of what she was reading applied to my situation.  Listening, perhaps a lost art, is sometimes one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.


Listen for yourself.

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