If sound is power, then listening seems like submission

We seem thoroughly persuaded that looking is active while listening is passive. So looking is always liable to become a violating, objectifying and diminishing action, while listening is thought of not only as harmless but as positively nurturing and concernful. Looking is proscriptive, listening is permissive. When you look at something, you put it in its place; when you listen to something, you let it be where it is.

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Typically, of course, being a good listener has been thought of as female, the assumption being that women, deprived of the authority of the voice, have become delicately expert in the more passive and pacific arts of the ear.

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There is certainly oppressiveness in being forced to listen. If sound is power, then listening seems like submission, even, as Fred Kraus (2004) suggests, a kind of masochistic submission to that power.

Sadistic Listening, Steven Connor.

Let the ears not listen at random

“Listening is to convey wisdom, to foster action, and to bring achievement and honor, If it is not sincere, it is not clear, not deep, not effective, so the highlest learning involves listening with the spirit, middling learning involves listening with the mind, lower learning involves listening with the ear.

The learning of those who listen with their ears is in the surface of their skin. The learning of those who listen with their minds is in their flesh and muscles. The learning of those who listen with their spirits is in their bones and marrow.

So when you do not listen deeply to something, you do not know it clearly; when you do not know it clearly, then you cannot plumb its essence, and when you cannot plumb its essence you cannon perfect its practice.

The general principles for listening are to empty the mind so that it is clear and calm: discount moods and don’t be full of them, have no thoughts and no rumination. Let the eyes not look at random, let the ears not listen at random. Concentrate the vitality of the mind so that it builds up and the inner attention is fully consolidated. Once you have attained this, you must stabilize and preserve it, and must extend and perpetuate it.”

Wen-Tzu: Understanding the Mysteries, Further Teachings of Lao-Tzu