Angels and Demons

By Pauline Oliveros

Program Notes

What is the nature of listening?

There is primary or initiatory listening as one enters the world for the first time. What a rush that must be as the ears unplug and air rushes in! Primary listening gives us relationship to place and continues to unfold through one’s lifetime — literally and figuratively — with more or less intensity depending on the individual and culture.

There is secondary listening or remembered listening. If we remember, we are conscious. There is short-term and long-term consciousness. In any case, consciousness is latent and without memory (however late it might be in manifesting), there is no consciousness.

There is focused listening where attention is directed to communication and learning to listen for specific sounds and to repeat them. There is global listening where attention is open to the field of undifferentiated fluctuating sounds.

As focal listening gains in importance, global and primary listening lose the foreground and only returns in initiatory or unfamiliar situations such as entering a room full of people speaking a foreign language.

As sounds are reified into language and communication — as we learn reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmitic (taught to the tune of a hickory stick), primary listening recedes.

So what?

We have lost that initial rush as we entered the world and made our first cry. Can you remember that? How like the big bang might that be?

I remind myself to listen so that I may be here now even though now has already gone.