Listen Like a River

March 8th, 2010 · No Comments

by Jim Cummings

Thanks to EarthEar’s Facebook community, I was just clued into the Cooroora Institute, a wonderful initiative out of Australia, centered on improvised and ceremonial engagement with the natural world, in all art media.  Check out their website (linked above) and their various writings; I highly recommend Tamsin Kerr’s Listen Like a River.  Here’s a taste:

“Yet, humans have greater qualities than just a sense of hearing. We have a creative ability to step outside ourselves and imagine an expanded future. We have ways to listen to the world; not just hear its noises. We might listen like a river. Listening like a river offers possibilities, seldom grasped, for new cultural metaphors and new ways forward. Margaret Somerville says: ‘Babble is … a language that is … visionary and revelatory, closer to the landscape, allied to the sounds of streams and birds.’ (Somerville, et al, 1994: 194). Perhaps it is only possible to place think, to imagine landscape embeddedness, through succumbing to wild thinking and the babble of rivers.

“Deep within its waters, a river holds the memory of sounds across both time and place. River flows embrace the sound of brook, creek, and stream journeys as well as seas and oceans. Sounds travel well in water; distance meaningless to a river’s hearing. The crystal waters of its birthplace abound with young life, while pelicans swoosh down suddenly with beaks agape at the river’s mouth. Mangrove buds unfurl, root, grow, and die amidst the lifetime swirls and eddies that combine fresh and brine. And from far across the ocean comes the clear singing of whales. Human sounds above and apart from the waters are distorted and remote. Travel distance is a human concept – land and air based; this is not a river’s reality. The clearest sounds remain always within its waters. And its waters are everywhere all the time, flowing constantly from mountain to mangrove, from creek to ocean.”

Now, go read the whole thing!!

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