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violins, librivox, and beauty in chaos

Posted on the LivriVox forum, but I thought it was worth repeating here on dose.

One of the things I (personally) like about many podcasts is how … crappy! … they are. I don’t mean the facetiously, I mean that very honestly. I like that people cough and you hear the trucks roll by, and things are messy and badly-produced etc. It is like real life, unlike the polished stuff you get on TV and Radio & movies, which is fantasy.

And this is something I love about LibriVox. It is a bit of a revolutionary act to say: I wish to listen to a book recorded by a bunch of people, only some of whom are good readers! I want to listen to the words, and to the voices of these average joes & janes reading, the same as I remember my mother reading to me as a kid, and the librarian who used to read to us in school. It’s a rejection of the need for polish, for perfection, for style; choosing instead the substance of the text, and the reality of a real real flawed person like me doing their best to read something they love.

And I think this notion is not so easy to understand – why would I want to listen to something imperfect? Well, for me, because that perfectiion is a sham, and it’s unnecessary and it distracts from the text in a way.

I have a friend here who is a improvisational jazz violinist, Malcolm Goldstein.

the first time I head him play I thought “what the HELLL is this? It’s noise!” But what he’s asking you to do is listen to OTHER things, not the melody & harmony and all the easy things we associate with music, but something else, the underpinnings of the sound, the textures of the noises, the surprise, different cadence. And this is tied in with what the world is really like: it is not so ordered, so clean…it’s very messy and chaotic, but we are trained not to like this aspect of the world, not to like the flaws and imperfection. One reason we are taught to want perfection is that if we don,t like flaws we are easier targets for corporate marketers who sell perfection. Yet there is such beauty in that mess, if you pay attention to it in a different way, there is so much to be learned from chaos and flaws and mistakes. But you have to unlearn how to listen for it.

In the same way, I think (and this is just my personal take) LibriVox is a place that celebrates the flaws, the beauty in chaos, the messiness of life, but interpreted through the great works of literature of the world. we take raw materials and build with our voices something different, but I think something revolutionary, and we say: because it sounds like THAT over there, does not mean it has to sound like that here. We give you something different, and you can give something different too.