Jazz and Listening

I saw this TED talk and was particularly interested in Stefon’s Harris’ points about listening and reacting, and how the characters in Jazz seem to function like a jazz band on the bandstand in that sense.

My first thought was about our narrator, who is recalling stories upon stories about the people in Manhattan. Assuming the narrator is a member of the community and not an omniscient god, they would have learned through listening (visually or auditorily).  All of the characters are listening in some way or another, perceiving the actions of those around them and, sometimes, perceiving them as mistakes (such as Joe’s affair, his murder, or Violet’s attack on Dorcas’ body).

Harris also says, “it’s easier to talk about someone else’s mistake,” which made me wonder more about the narrator, who recalls the faults of others but not their own. But Harrison clarifies that the only mistake is to not react to a note that somebody else played and thus miss an opportunity. As the characters in Jazz discuss and work through the actions of their peers, I am eager to see how they finally decide to react (or not react). What opportunities will they take advantage  of, and what opportunities will they miss?

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