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  • Writer's pictureJoël Tibbits

Language and Listening - an evolving pair

"The Books of Magra is a profound exploration of consciousness through fiction and sound." When I tell people that this is my work, they often point out how unusual it is to pair books and music together. The convention tends to be creating one or the other - write a book or record an album. So I can understand how for many this may seem an odd or nonsensical undertaking. But for me it is quite natural.

When I work on "The Books of Magra," either writing or composing, one form of expression inspires the other. As I write, I hear sounds and music; when I play my guitar, images and scenarios arise in my mind; sometimes as I compose, conceptual idea bursts forth that become a unique symbology, or sometimes even an architectural drawing. Eventually, as I get deeper and deeper into the work, I am moving between both realms of writing and music-making - there is no differences between them; they inform one another.

This approach has lead me to establish a specialized working space that has multiple types of media and resources equally available at all times. In this way, the media I am using, whether literary, sonic, or visual, coalesce as the boundaries of those modalities dissolve through the creative process. Put simply, writing words and creating with sounds are symbiotic for me, one state compels the other.

They are two forms of expression, or two Languages, that evolve one another to the degree and depth of how I Listen for what needs to come.

This creative relationship between them has enabled me to continue on an experience of cultivating my understanding and use of Listening and Language.

"Listening is our whole being in profound receptivity and activity."

This creative relationship between writing and music has enabled me to continue on an experience of cultivating my understanding and use of Listening and Language.

I resisted this creative process for "The Books of Magra" for a few years because I simply did not think it was possible to do. I did not think I had the capacity with words or sounds, let alone both, to adequately and authentically portray what I felt they required of me. That was until I realized that they were looking to communicate with one another through me. When I allowed them to do so, my current view of Listening and Language emerged.

For me, Listening is our whole being in profound receptivity and activity. First, this means that there is no moment when we are only taking things in because this in itself is an outreach, you cannot be aware with your attention given to something. Second, being aware is a continuity of creation. Every moment, awake or asleep, relaxing or stressing, dreaming or realizing, we are creating.

But this view of Listening, with its feature of activity brings into consideration the nature and reasons for Language.

"Language changes, it is provisional..."

Language is basically defined as a spoken or written means of communication between human beings.

Most artists, regardless of the medium they use, view there work as a form of observation and expression. In this respect it is Language. This means that whether you finger paint, dance, knit, cook, sing or carve, regardless the medium, you are using a language. And so Language is broad and limitless in how it may appear, you might say that it is simply information. And as such, Language changes, it is provisional, and most notably it may shift with us.

What has become more and more apparent to me is that we need to Listen more profoundly and broadly, while allowing our definitions of Language to breakdown. We need our concepts and practices of communicating to be absorbed and transformed in a multitude of contexts and processes, placed in crucibles of great experiential intensity so that they are free to shift and change within the given context. Only in this way may we realize the potential of any given means of Listening and Language, while allowing other means of communicating come to light.

In "The Books of Magra" there is an intended offering of new Languages - in the names of place and characters, concepts, symbols, ideograms, formulas, music and sound. All of which inform and influence one another as they are presented as multi-faceted and multi-functional experiences.

Language and Listening are an evolving pair, when they are free to be nuanced processes of growth, they may reveal the richness of experience and lead to more profound explorations of consciousness.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

If you think someone might find this interesting, please share!

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