Listening against the stone selected essays

I don't mind a leisurely pace. I am easily hurt by the implication that readers will not be as interested in my protagonist's innermost thoughts and reflections as I think they should be.

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Miller is a In my writing life, I tend to chafe against expectations of starting in medias res. Miller is a wonderful writer. She can use words like I imagine an artist uses a paintbrush and colors, to create a whole world in readers' minds with a few deft strokes. Theoretically she is also an interesting writer for me to read because she and I share cultural experiences. Sandwiched as I am between the boomers and the millenials, the same age as Generation X but somehow not part of the mindset, it rarely happens to me that cultural references come easily. I was very much looking forward to reading it.

So every night before bed, I pushed the pushcart a little further up the hill by reading another essay. Friends and boyfriends, and exotic locales, came and went. Kevin, Keith, A. Portugal, Jordan, Jerusalem, Van Nuys. I too have traveled another continent with a man I thought I loved. And yet, pushing the cart, I couldn't keep all those people and places straight, or quite figure out why I should care. She tied up the awkward relationship between old-fashioned fathers and modern daughters, and what love can and can't do in the face of inexorable, faceless change, all in one paragraph, both devastating and hopeful.

And so for me, the story started. The collection then meanders like a mountain stream through hot springs, massages, Buddhist retreats, and an open relationship.

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I enjoy this, especially given the evocative quality of the writing, but I am a tourist again in the land of the boomers. Miller's version of California bears little resemblance to the Googlified technoparadise I currently inhabit. I finally think to check when Miller was born. I am guessing she is years older than I am.

The answer is 6 years older. Her version of Buddhism is educational, at times refreshingly non-self-righteous, at times boring. I like, and admire, the fact that she is willing to admit sometimes to being bored by spiritual practice, but perseveres anyway to find the meaning in it. One central theme of this book is how the author's view of spirituality has changed over time. I see it not so much as a radical, or even sea change but as a deepening and a falling away of non-essential trappings of ritual to get at the pure joy of being alive.

I can't really sing either, although I'm not tone deaf as she claims to be. I can sing in tune and match pitch, but I have a weak, tremulous singing voice. Yet, unlike Miller, I am a musician of some accomplishment, in spite of my lack of vocal talent. I just need a surrogate voice, aka an instrument. Smailovic survived the war and later came to perform in Seattle, WA. Miller was at that performance, and wrote about it. This performance inspired others as well. I tried to teach that lesson in my former church and was crying my eyes out before the first phrase of the Albinoni ended.

It's a little embarrassing for that to happen in front of a bunch of year-olds, but as I remember, they were nice about it. You have to make yourself heard, even if it's just for a moment or two, when the music takes on a life of its own and leaves the shelter of your hands. Jul 15, Candace Morris rated it liked it.

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  • Listening Against The Stone: Selected Essays - AbeBooks - Brenda Miller: ;

I have read a few collections of Brenda Miller's essays before and was less compelled by them as this collection. I was introduced to her by my writing teacher as one of the frontrunners of flash nonfiction.

Yves Bonnefoy

She is also a local Washingtonian, so that feels somehow important. At first glance, Miller seems simple enough.

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A single woman writing about her past life, lovers, losses. But as you ruminate on the essays, reading one and then another so that they build into a full photo of a woman's life, I have read a few collections of Brenda Miller's essays before and was less compelled by them as this collection. But as you ruminate on the essays, reading one and then another so that they build into a full photo of a woman's life, you realize how brilliantly they are crafted.

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  8. There are details shared that were so terribly vulnerable - details enough to usher you into her living room and count yourself a friend - but you also fully know that you actually don't know anything at all about her. You could BE her, for all you know.

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    This kind of universality and relatability and cosmic otherness and commitment to spirituality is what keeps me coming back to Miller. Oct 24, Josephine Ensign rated it liked it. This is an interesting collection of Miller's more spiritually-minded essays.

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    My two favorite essays were "Infant Ward" which I've read before--about her work as a volunteer at Seattle Children's Hospital , and "Opalescent. It can also be an adoptive strategy to sadistic speeches which demoralizes an individual. Since listening is active, it is easy to detect pseudo listening as the listener will be giving inappropriate responses to the speaker.

    Another type of non-listening is monopolizing the communication to ourselves instead of the speaker. This is common with people who consistently reroute the conversation back to themselves or to topics that only interest the listener. According to Shafir , it is the most infuriating of all impediments to communication. It is notable that monopolizing of conversations will often be in expression doubts in their responses to what is being said. Monopolization reduces learning opportunity and is hurting to the person who is talking as they are perceived to be lying. As Stone et al 90 say, good listening is all about keeping the spotlight on the speaker. Selective listening is a form of non-listening where one chooses to listen to specific parts of communication. We may choose to listen to only the parts that interest us and not consider the parts that we find boring.

    Communications that we find uncomfortable or that we disagree with are also easily disregarded in the listening process.


    These include criticism or communication shows our weaknesses or creates change in us. Defensive listening is done when communication personally attacks a listener and the speaker is perceived not to like or respect the listener. Some however, are naturally defensive, perceiving hate, criticism and mistrust in everything said to them. They misinterpret all innocent comments to be negatively intended and therefore they retaliate by giving negative responses towards the person speaking.

    Being defensive will deprive the listener of the truth from the speaker if the speaker cares and understands the defensive nature of the listener. Listening is adaptable to the specific goals for which we listen. We can be listening for pleasure or to get information. While listening for pleasure, no retention or response is necessary, however, it is still important to be a good listener. Mindful listening even while listening for pleasure will ensure we derive more pleasure from the conversation. Still to enjoy more we have to control interferences from noises or internal hindrances so that we maximally enjoy the communication.

    In listening for information, such as listening in lectures, or when receiving guidelines or advice, retention is superiorly prioritized. This can only be achieved with upgrading our organizational, and concentration towards what is being communicated. The first and most important step, encompassing all that is needed in listening, is to be mindful. When mindfully listening we decide to attend despite the complexity of what is being said.

    Obstacles and hindrances to communications are also controlled to minimal levels so that the mind is fully committed to the communication process. In conclusion it is important to listen because communication is the pivot of many problems and is easily solved by listening.