TOPIC: Answering hard questions
Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize honor for literature. Dylan wasn’t able to attend the Nobel ceremony. He sent an acceptance speech in his stead and Patti Smith sang Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. According to The New Yorker, Dylan wrote the song in 1962 and modeled it after seventeenth-century ballads: a question is posed, and the singer attempts to answer. When Smith sang it, she got nervous and later wrote about it.
Project Talk + Listen is a practice to talk openly and listen empathetically.
It's an experiment and invitation to work with two experiences: talking with genuineness and transparency and listening from the other's point of view without judgment, evaluation, approval, or disapproval of the statements. It's not a discussion.
Aim for 30 minutes total. Each person gets half the time to talk and listen.
Talk transparently. Listen quietly.
Agree to be curious, flexible, open, and courageous.
Sit, stand, or walk as you talk or listen. It's up to you.
View the eight-minute video of Patti Smith singing A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall. Your choice, also read Amanda Petrusich's article, "A Transcendent Patti Smith Accepts Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize" and Patti Smith's essay, "How Does It Feel."
Take turns talking and listening as you:
1. Describe what you saw and heard. (Describing might seem absurdly simple. But it's very hard to do. I pretend that my partner cannot hear or see what I'm describing.)
"Describing is a process of overall observing, particular noticing, and telling what you see or otherwise sense...To describe is to name it and its characteristics and qualities...People seem to believe that if what they are asked to describe is in front of you and them, then they think there is no need to say what they see because they wrongly assume that we all see the same things in the same way. We do not. We look at things differently, we notice different aspects, and we use different words when we tell about what we see." - Terry Barrett, CRITS (in contract, Bloomsbury Publishing, London)
2. Complete each of these two sentences in paragraphs.
When I see _____, I think _____ …
When I see _____, I feel _____ ...
3. Later, reflect on your experience. If you choose, share your insights with your partner.