Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Vocal" Illustration Friday April 6, 2012

Inspired by the Illustration Friday word: "vocal" and by the quote:

"The more one listens to ordinary conversation the more apparent it becomes that the reasoning faculties of the brain take little part in the direction of the vocal organs". - Edgar Rice Burroughs

I enjoyed finding this quote, its snide tone so beautifully wrapped in elegant phrases, like a medicine coated to slide down the throat before its bitter taste makes one think twice about swallowing.

But the more I mulled it over, the less pleased I was to derive an illustration from the quote. We all speak without thinking, and pointing this out in a superior way has been done so beautifully by Mr. Burroughs I need not add to his words. And besides, I suspect I am more often to be found on the other side of his judgement line anyway.

I came to listening late in life. As a kid in a noisy opinionated family with many siblings, volume was where it was at. Being clever was great, but if you didn't turn up the volume nobody would know you had anything worth listening to say. After school anecdotes were considered and polished on the way home, and delivered -often at full volume and speed to forestall interruptions - before after-school play could be considered.

It wasn't so long ago that I realized my conversations didn't have a lot of empty spaces. And I wondered if I were one of those people who listened for spaces into which I could insert my next thought, rather than pondering what the other person was saying and responding to that.

So I decided to try listening.

Conversations opened up, slowed down, and became more of a meander with an unknown outcome than a forced march to a planned closing statement. Friends would look at me, perplexed, when I let pauses stretch out, thinking they had more to add.

And I got to know what my friends really thought. Or at least what they would say if I didn't have quite so much to say myself.

I thought about this, and of the abundant flow of noise and words we encounter sometimes, when a person has strong feelings they want to express. Election year is good for that. The internet prompts impassioned attacks and defenses of topics as wide ranging as war and grammar, schooling, sexuality and religion - and those are just some of the topics I've seen this week. Sifting through, looking for the clear thoughts behind the bombast is sometimes more effort than I care to expend. And though I am always interested in someone's opinion, I am rarely ready to subject myself to the vocal deluge of what might otherwise have been an interesting idea.


  1. :) I grew up in one of those families, too! Listening is an ongoing skill that continues to take effort in a society that yells and changes the conversations in nano seconds. This illustrations is an amazing synergy of lines and chaos that speaks to the state of vocalism!

    Besides, all that, I love it!! :) :)

  2. I totally agree. Somebody told me that most people only listen enough to find a place in the conversation where they can continue with what they want to say. Too much talking, not enough listening, and that's not real communication. Love the energy of your drawing and how that ties in with your post.

  3. Oh my, this is amazing!
    Your story goes so well too.
    Life is a never-ending learning experience, I guess.
    Awesome illustration!

  4. Really enjoy this piece. Your use of line is exceptional

  5. Thanks for the comments folks; inspirational and insightful.

  6. This is brilliant! I love the movement in your illustration, and your line work is amazing! I really enjoyed reading what you wrote as well. :)

  7. A wise, wise post. Fabulous drawing... and you write so well, too!

  8. This drawing (brilliant as usual) says there is an ocean of things to say and sometimes they just flood illustrates your post (brilliant as usual) perfectly!


So glad you stopped by. I love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a line! Hurrah! Aino