EXPLORATION PERIOD: 15 DEC 2023 - 1 Feb 2024

Focusing on listening to the recordings (alongside practising).








FOCUS/PRACTICE: Conversation-as-Material (I) as a shared practice. The focus of this conversation practice was the preceding period of exploration (15 December 2023 - 1 Feb 2024).


Speaker is not visible (masks camera with tape), listener has back turned, active listening.


1. Speaking/listening: taking turns facing [5 mins each]

2. Speaking/listening: taking turns facing [5 mins each]

3. Speaking/listening: taking turns facing [10 mins each]

4. Speaking/listening: taking turns facing [10 mins each]

5. Speaking/listening: taking turns facing [5 mins each]



- Take a moment to tune into the chosen object/focus of exploration – this could involve a period of recollection, or looking back at notes, sketches, wordings that relate to the object/focus of exploration, or by noting/drawing/diagramming.

- Connect and try to stay connected with your direct experience.

- Feel free to speak before knowing what it is that you want to say – thinking through speaking.

- Feel free to speak in single words, partial phrases, half sentences, and thought fragments.

- Allow for vulnerability and embarrassment – for wrestling with, stumbling and falling over one’s words.

- Consider different speeds and rhythms. Allow for silence.

- Approach listening to the other as an aesthetic practice.

There was this immediate sense of and I think because of my exhaustion and stress or the exhaustion from stress it was so welcome to be lying down and for these words to be coming into my ears. And I also had also put the headphones on rather than listening to it in space, which created a kind of intimacy and closeness to our voices. And it was surprising how quickly these words enter the body really, it was so absorbing, sort of washing over me, kind of, a sense of really dropping in, falling in or entering a real ease of entering. I don’t know why it surprised me. Allowing. I had a feeling I had a certain openness which came I think from exhaustion. Which is interesting how the body then is somehow exhausted and that can create another kind of opening because it’s gone slightly over its limits or the edges have been or are slightly fraying. Maybe there’s a kind of vulnerability and a fragility in that exhaustion. You can’t grasp the sense you have to ride with it roll with it, just let it filter, absorb come through not try and grasp the words. It was super pleasant and very calming. And somehow very exciting as well in some ways or reconfirming or kind of grounding. And maybe the quality, the textures of voice, and mostly aah yes the idea of voice the texture and what a voice is. And also the first few things I was listening to was about the voice or experiencing the voice or voicing dorsal voicing listening. And the co-incidence with a word, that a word coincides to what you’re experiencing in that moment is super interesting. It opens up a whole lens of how you are experiencing at that moment or a kind of collision or intersection of what’s happening in that moment of what the voices are saying beyond their texture. Something about very much absorbing through the body. Through the skin. The sense of the sort of the ease and dropping into something. Landing in something or landing with something. Texture resonating. This sense of texture and the voice as texture, maybe there’s something about text and texture. The sense of texture. At times it felt like I was trying to get a sense of what is this quality of listening and how is this quality of listening. And one of the things that came to me I guess was that it has a similar quality to listening to music. In particular, if I listen to music I find it very difficult to catch the lyric. And it’s a bit like that. I could hear what we were saying I could hear the content but it was also not graspable in that kind of sense so it felt very much like this experience of listening to music. Almost like language as a feeling somehow so as the words were unfolding it was like they were touching me but I couldn’t hold them. They were sort of passing through me, you used this term floating or drifting. The sense of the feeling of language or the tone of something or the feeling tone of it seemed very strong. It just felt very much like a way of becoming in touch again with what we’ve been doing. Content that’s moving in all directions it feels very mercurial very liquid in a sense its very it’s in movement. That quality of letting it maybe wash through, I was even thinking of this idea of brainwashing and what a nice thought that is - aside from the coercive dimension of brainwashing – just thinking of the sense of having the brain washed and letting these words wash through, feel like the sensible and sensitive content of them is really landing in me but its washing through me as a physical matter rather than me being able to really cognitively grasp all the words. And then this sense that it was possible to listen to the same over and over again and again how you might listen with a song and each time landing very differently feeling very differently. Having the source of the sound behind me, like having the voices from behind. I think my sense is, my temptation is to look at the screen to look to the listening so there’s something about the eyes and the ears and the body and this looking at the screen and in the looking at the screen I get distracted so having it behind me was somehow a way of letting go of the device-ness of the recording somehow and just to maybe be activating the sense of the behind and the back more in relation to that. The image of the brain being washed - maybe there is a sense of passing through or washing through that is linked with listening. It’s very much linked with listening because something about sound and where sound comes from and how it enters the body, very different from sight and very different from touch, differently spatial or maybe its to do with the sense of how sound works, vibration resonance, we talked about this before, listening not only through the ears but through the skin not only listening through the ears but through the whole body. It was not about having to understanding or having to recall something but the actual – the listening. At some point I started to I’m not quite sure why I started to quite gently to repeat what I was listening to, like repeat everything - slightly delayed – and that was so interesting, it’s almost like I could listen and say and then relisten to what I was saying in a very different way. Something about it being the echo of those two voices being my voice that created a different kind of connection and strung the words together in a slightly different way because it was the same voice.  It was very interesting to do, also it didn’t stop me listening it almost felt like an enhanced sense of listening that I could repeat and it was with the shorter phrases that I was doing this it was. There was something very fascinating happening there – in the listening and re-voicing and even allowing myself to get slightly behind but because there was a spaciousness in these two voices that I was still able to not miss anything something – not that that really mattered – but there was something about playing with the delay and the spaciousness, it was really curious. Perhaps it made be even more aware of the gaps we would leave, the gaps we would leave were really surprising because in some ways we don’t leave many gaps there’s spaciousness but not real gaps. But the gaps when they came they were aaaaaah, they were like a yawn or a suspension. I feel its enabled me to really feel like I’m in our enquiry, like I wouldn’t say quick way of dropping into it but quite a strong way of really reconnecting and the sense of possibilities emerging of how we might evolve things or work with things. I really love that idea of listening and speaking at the same time. I think wow that would be such a nice thing to explore, us listening and speaking out, maybe listening with headphones and speaking out, a departure from reading and more to voicing somehow. Exploring different ways of ways of listening and I think maybe to begin with there was something about almost trying to find a right way of listening as if there might be a right way. And then maybe this evolved into thinking about what might be a dorsal way of listening and what do these different ways open up or allow to come to the surface differently. I think it was evening and it was quite dark and I just had the sound playing and I was just trying to relax in a way or rest. It felt like the voices sort of provided a support upon which to rest or a way of resting with the voicing. That somehow the quality of the voicing and the presence of language kept my thoughts quite focussed, not focussed, focus isn’t right, it somehow gave a support or rest upon which I could lay my thoughts. It was just enough to stop me from being distracted by other things. I could just really be with it. And this felt like quite an usual experience. It felt like my, it was as if the whole of my whole perception or my concentration or my awareness was fully filled with this voicing. It was completely filled by it so I wasn’t thinking of other things and it wasn’t make me think of other things. Neither being distracted nor especially being like provoked to think about to think about it. Almost like a very full kind of thought but not thinking, just completely being with it. Almost like listening and the words, kind of that sense they fully resonated, they fully felt true, that’s a strange thing to say but the sense of the truth of it felt very strong. And I could just be with that and neither think about other things or things provoked by it. Just be very present in the language, yes a stillness in the mind. I had a sense of maybe something that’s come from the body is now folding back into the body. A lot about how we work folds, circles and gets recycled. And this is another kind of sense. There is a kind of folding of understanding. But returning to the listening, listening voicing speaking or it reminds of curling the voice, I remember you said once that you were listening in a way that my voice had to curl around you, or the voices were curling around the other. Circling cycling entering in a different way. I think you had said something like ‘listening to yourself really’. There was something about listening to yourself. There was something about this phrase and not knowing who had said that, if you had said that or I had said that, there was something in this listening to yourself really that struck me. But this now with the headphones it felt very close very attached to the body. I was also thinking how different it feels when having the eyes open or closed, a different sense of listening and today I sometimes had them closed but often they were open without really seeing things. It’s almost like the listening gives an ease to looking or having the eyes open. They let the listening happen. Listening to the single words and short phrase. I tend to enjoy these more and I was wondering why that is and I think it is that the, mingling, the intermingling of voices is more evident somehow, perhaps the taking of turns and sometimes speaking together happens more frequently. So it becomes more enmeshed. And this idea of understanding, or the texture and the text. There’s a kind of double listening of listening to the voices and the tones and textures - I listened quite attentively, or noticed attentively even the different speeds we talk at or the different ways we drop or let the words come out of go to the words – there were these differences in how we both speak - and I found that really interesting, and there’s all of that as well as the text. Also texture. There is something about the short phrase and singular words and the sensemaking of that score, that I find very freeing – it’s the most freeing from any sense of telling or explaining or rationale, its very poetic at times, it really moves me a real poetic sense of language and experience. Feels like the less and the gaps. Like little bubbles or packages one after the other they reveal different things, they’re so small you have to just roll with that, then another one comes and another one comes. It creates or build ups a kind of accumulation, maybe not accumulation more like bubbles, air and come along and burst. And a sense of immersion and being immersed in something, being part of something, being immersed in something. When the sentences become longer something else shifts, something else happens. I need to almost adjust to create another space in myself so I can listen spaciously. Coming back to this idea of the texture in listening and in listening to our voices. At a certain moment I started to listen to your voice and taking the time to really feel the words as they are being said, something about the feeling and the listening while speaking. Taking time and taking of time. We are reading, we don’t have to think the words, the words are there but we can take time to feel it. Well we were I think. Noticing the subtleties of it and this is also a kind of listening, this taking time while speaking. Perhaps in that speaking and the taking of time to speak is also a way of us bringing the previous into what’s happening now or honouring that or just letting that resonate. Ah I’m not just reading aloud but taking time because this is coming from something and I’m going to take the time to allow that to resonate in that previous into what’s happening now and into what possibly can happen later. Coincidences, some kind of collision, coinciding. Moments that somehow have coincided. Something that’s somehow coincides, or drops into the now, chance moments incidents coincidences incidental, also moments that are quite funny sometimes. Or maybe after spending this morning listening there is also this sense I have somehow forgotten everything that was spoken, that I listened to. I took a couple of notes but otherwise it’s all gone. The sense of somehow not being able to recollect it or not being able to hold it was really strong in my experience, that it’s almost like maybe unless I’d written it down immediately or perhaps even read it again or spoke it again as you were doing, as soon as it had been it went somehow. How is this languaging then that never accumulates into something that can be taken away or that refuses to be summarised or précis-ed in some kind of capacity. There so many of these hours of speaking and the sense of the texts, the fragments of spoken word themselves land so well and resonate so well and yet nothing can be taken from it. What kind of languaging is this this enables this immediacy of connection. A real strong sense of resonance and yet it doesn’t last, it can’t be held, it can’t be captured. Nothing remains from that. But I recognise in myself this desire to want to try and capture, to want to try and distil it, to make sense of it and yet each time it slips away from me. So the quality of the language having this fluid, maybe airlike almost like breathing quality, it can’t be held. It keeps coming and slipping away. Or even wave-like, this quality of the wave-like movement of its coming and its going, its coming and it’s going. As if `I was meditating just sitting not lying down just sitting very still with my eyes closed. The sense of my mind being quite open not being too distracted and just allowing the voicing into that or not even allowing, just the voicing resonating or reverberating in that space and just being able to almost attend to every single line really really well, like being able to really hear it to let it resonate or reverberate to be really touched by it but again not to think from it, to just let it come and let it ring in the body in some kind of way. And then it goes and then the next comes and it rings or reverberates or resounds in the body. But today the quality of being out felt very different and even the sense of the air on me and the feeling of connecting with the floor just really felt like it had been transformed through this practice of listening beforehand. A feeling of a phrase was there somehow. Maybe the feeling of the phrasing or the tone or the feeling of something. Like engaging with something that has linguistic content that is language but somehow it’s a language-ness is its only medium somehow. I just found it an amazing way of really feeling tuned in and reconnecting and being in touch, maybe being in touch with the direct experience of it somehow through this act of listening. Somehow the words enabled this movement back into a certain kind of direct experience and it was very effective, surprisingly effective in that sense of bringing my body back in touch with a sense of dorsal practice. I was also another time listening to the recordings but looking out of the window – in a way I look out of the window a lot but there was something again about this active listening and looking out of the window, very much like what you were describing, that my eyes just, it was not as if they were not looking, I was definitely looking and definitely seeing what I was looking out through the window. But there was no feeling in the eyes that I was searching for things or busy with. They could be actively quiet maybe this experience of the eyes quietening. Maybe even the thought quietening but still being active. It was not as if they’re switching off, and not even that the thought is switching off, it’s just that’s it’s not busy in the way that it can be. It wasn’t like I wasn’t thinking but maybe I wasn’t thinking in a way that was involuntary. Like sometimes I feel my thinking is involuntary, my mind is busy with something and it’s a bit out of my control in a way. It was more like it was quiet when it wasn’t being asked of anything and then when there were moments for thinking it felt like it was a very rich space to reflect and realise and turn with some of the ideas that were present with the voicing. Yes maybe I am really drawn to that sense that the way that the words escape somehow and I think that there is a kind of resistance in that, yes maybe something that is a bit resistant and it wouldn’t even be too far to say a bit radical in the sense that the words won’t be captured, they can’t be captured. They’re not hiding and they’re not not saying. Even in its most openness it won’t be held, won’t be captured or it can’t be précis-ed or it can’t be turned into information or facts and maybe particularly in the climate of some of the academic frameworks at the moment I am quite drawn to that, that sense of absolute open unfolding yet try as you might it won’t be held. It just feels very resistant. Resistant is not quite the word I’m looking for. What is the word I am looking for. Subversive actually. Maybe there’s something subversive about that, uncapturable, well its capturable in that its written and its said, and its listened. The meaning? Well it can be captured but for a second, it has a sort of ephemeral sense of it appearing and disappearing appearing disappearing. It leaves a kind of trace but not in a sense of remembering a word or meaning but a trace of something that has been experienced, is it a trace of meaning, a trace of experience. Perhaps what is captured is an embodied knowing, a way of knowing but it cant explain, it gives a sense of it. Listening as a way of understanding something that isn’t academic, can’t be pinned down or boxed in its still moving and its still forming. I was thinking of the idea of what it means when things connect, when things connect, its kind of unconnected and yet its connected to many many things. This material I am listening to , those words, those voices, this piece of audio, is existing in its own kind of conditions, it has its own way of being or being what it is, which is voice and language and texture and breath. Like air and bubbles, a language of air and she couldn’t grasp what they were meaning. It feels a bit like that, where there is no solid body, its not a solid thing. It almost reminds me of the awkwardness of knowing when to go or not to go and then just going or not going then both going and we often both stop or one of us stops - and the awkwardness of interruption. There’s something in those moments when we both speak, but for some reason it feels, we often jump back from it or are shocked or try and not do it. I was noticing that today, there’s an interesting kind of glitch, even though there is no exact script to follow. We’re finding a way of understanding to speak or to be quiet. Then there are moments when we both speak or there is a longer gap. The regularity of taking turns. Sometimes we fall into a regularity of taking turns, and what does that mean in a way a passing from one to the other That also takes a listening and a trust but also the double speaking and the long gap that is also fine when it happens but its also quite difficult to let that happen and there is also an awkwardness there. I was thinking of this idea of passing. What does it actually mean this taking turns. There’s a kind of cadance, or I’m doing this strange move now that you can’t hear or maybe you can, its like a passing, like a figure 8, maybe more like breath, one voice goes into another voice. We are speaking and we are listening, an attentiveness that creates a kind of shaping to the taking turns. There’s a kind of shape of breath of a figure 8, a curved taking - of turns. What I noticed was this turn-taking or this dialogic kind of structure to it as if it is a dialogue and I suppose when I’ve been listening maybe afterwards when I have been reflecting on materials thinking that the way the recordings then get transcribed as a single block when those turns are not reflected. Implicit to the notion of dialogue is the sense of someone listening to you and responding so this is very different to if it was only a monologue, you know just one voice reading on its own so somehow in the structure this playing out of, well complex playing out of, also the experience of listening within it seems to be important that we’re each listening to each other but we’re also paying attention to the text and it’s not a usual dialogue in the sense that there are many different pulls of attention happening in some senses. We’re trying to listen and attend to all of those so the call of the text as we are looking on the paper at the same time listening to you and then somehow between listening to the paper or reading the paper and listening to you somehow sometimes things come that respond to both in a way and sometimes they take a tangent. There’s something about the form that somehow builds in the experience of both listening to somebody but also being witnessed or listened to, listening to and being listened to. Maybe there’s something to do with the sense of the words landing somewhere, or maybe even landing somewhere in someone’s body already. Maybe something about what is it that the act of listening does in all of this, the role of listening in reading and in speaking and in dialogue and then how is that listening then also present when we listen again. Yes maybe there is something about the way in which Iistening has a dorsal dimension, it’s a receptive dimension potentially, particularly if we’re listening not to answer back or offer a position in relation to, its just listening. It’s not like I’m trying to find something to say. That pressure of trying to find something to say from me. We are trying to find something to say but the text is already there, we rest on the text. Its not like the me of me is trying to find something to say – from me. Also the dialogic also has this twoness and there’s something of this two sided-ness that is running through a lot of what we are doing but also that this two sidedness, the figure 8 is a very interesting model, that it becomes complicated that the clearly defined one or the other is difficult to discern somehow. The one bleeds into the other the one merges into the other one becomes the other. At times I’m reading words that maybe your words or both of our words. or the sense of clearly defined boundaries gets made slippery or dissolved. And yet there is this twoness that sort of persists. Persists is the wrong word, its present but its troubled. It's always being presented or is present and yet its being disrupted or rendered more porous. At one point resistance felt very strong in my working vocabulary. Now I think affirmation feels stronger, I think there is still this sense something about an alternative but rather than it being through resistance I think this notion of affirming a different way is somehow more present and yes maybe resistance and affirmation are not so dissimilar. Maybe this is also the yes of the no how is it that a form of affirmation might be subversive or resistant or even what we have been talking about in that sense of how dorsality in the back might have this sense of resistance to it but it also affirms. It affirms itself it affirms a different way. It’s not only resisting frontality, or its not even resisting frontality. We’ve already talked about this sense of this cooperation between the front and the back that there isn’t the sense of a binary but that they are in dialogue and maybe again as a way of also thinking about the back and the front as a dialogic relationship or even resistance and affirmation as a dialogic relationship or this figure 8 where the one is also moving into the other or is dependent on the other. Maybe there is even something about dependency or co-dependency, that the front and the back have this co-dependency, that dialogue is a necessarily co-dependent or interdependent model somehow. It relies on another it rests it needs its not introspection I suppose really its always reaching out or beyond itself. And maybe something there about this sense of the presence of the two but that the two is always being dissolved or challenged or disrupted. I like this idea of the disrupted two-ness or troubled two-ness or that two-ness, that there’s a kind of dissolution or dissolved-ness of the one and the two and that’s in the nature of the dorsal-frontal and a coming around the sides as a way of dissolving the dualism or the binary. Then this image of the hand in the back, one behind the other, having the palm between the shoulder blades and finding a way I suppose to be together in that configuration and the way, or the feeling or the sense of being able to drop your weight into the hand in a way that can resist or find a kind of pressure there, or the sense of affirmation, it felt like agreeing or even that the hand might push and yes okay I will be pushed and we’ll go for a walk together. Leaning into something or moving with something and moving against a kind physical sense which is kind of embedded in that exercise, of its an exercise but it is also a kind of situation between two people with one behind the other and this sense of contact through the palm of the hand and skin to skin through that place between the shoulder blades. And that’s a very interesting kind of dialogue too that has these sort of senses of trust and resisting and affirming and perhaps even. This sense of two-ness and double-ness and dialogue. Listening through the body. It feels very resonant or relatable yes resonant with the two-ness of that situation. I really want to look up the etymology of affirm and affirmative. I suppose what’s coming to mind in thinking about that now is the sense of, maybe even in the language of what we’ve talked about before there’s this idea of the dorsal resisting or refusing some of those habits of frontality or faciality or forward leaning, even a sense of there being a kind of an implicit critique of certain contemporary pressures. Actually my feeling of the work that we’re doing doesn’t feel like an explicit critique in that kind of way. There is an implicit critique but its tone doesn’t feel like one of critique but it does feel more like saying yes, yes there is another way, yes, there is this possibility, almost like moment by moment yes, I can make a choice here, I can choose to be in this mode of future next next whatever, pressures of performativity or whatever that might be and I could choose in that moment not to be. And that not could feel be expressed as a critique like a refusal of certain pressures but it doesn’t actually feel so much in that key, it feels much more like a yes there is this possibility of a dorsal way all of the time

if I can let myself rest into that or fall into that or drop into that. Maybe my sense of resistance is that it’s meeting a kind of a hit somehow. There’s a certain kind of immovable contact that its hitting, what am I trying to say? Resistance, there’s different kinds of resistance I think in what we’re doing isn’t there? One might be that resistance to the sense of the normative and the other is really about finding that affirmative resistance that contact that sense of feedback that kind of resistance with the world or in-touchness. Maybe that’s the feeling of the ease that I get when I am listening to the recordings that its tone is yes and not only a critique which can feel exhausting, maybe not even exhausting although the quality of exhaustion you were talking at the start feels like it could be a very positive ground to work from. I guess there’s something of the difference between exhausting yourself of certain habits and just being unable to perform in a way and just having to go with whatever there is or there’s an exhaustion that is completely fatigued and doesn’t have any resource left and maybe at times the resource of critique runs to its limit sometimes and we do need something that is affirming or that brings a certain energy. Something of this energetic dimension or this resource that is there in the back that is not to do with this forwardness all the time but an energy that comes from being able to rest in itself, trusts itself. To be able to rest in the body and know that there is support there somehow or that the practice will supply support.