The Zen of Listening

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Douglas, Susan. (2004). The Zen of Listening, in Listening in : Radio and the American Imagination (22-39). Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.


Radio is examined here as a shaper of generational identities, as a uniting force for the creation of' ''imagined communities'' or nations, and as a nostalgic device with associational links in our past. In addition, it is portrayed as a powerful aural gadget that stimulates us cognitively not only through our imagination; our creation of images or ideas based on listening, but also through music, which engages us emotionally. Further discussed is a comprehensive history of radio in America and its contrasting relationship with newspapers and literacy, and television and its visual component. This contrast, and the existence of the radio and the ways we listen have important temporally bound characteristics that are important in understanding times, the medium itself and our relationship with it as it becomes engrained or interwoven into our everyday lives.

The text examines the social implications and reasons for being of radio and refers to various scholars who have examined the form and its effects of this revolutionary device which unites listeners through simultaneity of listening and the physical responses listening engenders. Through the physiological, social, cultural, and technological spheres of this medium, it is obvious that it is much more complex than commonly believed, and the text brings to light the ramifications of its introduction into a literary, visual culture, creating a hybrid America : a conservative, literate society entwined with a traditional, preliterate. oral culture.

Word Count : 230

Keywords : nostalgia, radio, imagined community, modes of listening, music, ritual

''With radio, the interior ''I'' began oscillating with the voices of those never met, never even seen (31).''

The permeating qualities of the ''voices of radio'' in the minds...
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