Conscient Podcast: e112 listening – how can listening help?

Note : Une version en français de cet article est disponible sur : Français

(various layered excerpts from my soundscape compositions throughout this episode)

Conclusion 1 : we need to face reality and learn how to unlearn

  • Mayer Hillman, e01: ‘We’re doomed. The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.’  
  • Joan Sullivan, e01 terrified ‘Even if we are doomed, and I think we are, I refuse to do nothing…’ 
  • Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective : ‘We need to walk a tightrope between desperate hope and reckless hopelessness.

Conclusion 2: we need to develop and implement a radical theory of change through the arts

  • David Haley, e19 : ‘We now need aesthetics to sensitize us to other ways of life and we need artists to sensitize us to the shape of things to come ‘ 
  • Jen Rae, e19 : ‘The thing about a preparedness mindset is that you are thinking into the future and so if one of those scenarios happens, you’ve already mentally prepared in some sort of way for it’. 
  • David Maggs, e109: ’If we only speak with our arts, and do not listen with them first, revelation is replaced by dictation…’

Conclusion 3: we need to transition out of modernity

  • Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective : ‘We are part of a much wider metabolism, and this metabolism is sick. There is a lot of shit for us to deal with: personal, collective, historical, systemic. Our fragilities are a big part of it. This shit needs to pass, so that it can be composted into new forms of life, no longer based on the illusion of separability.’ 
  • Eric Beinhocker: e19: ‘Humankind is in a race between two tipping points. The first is when the Earth’s ecosystems and the life they contain tip into irreversible collapse due to climate change. The second is when the fight for climate action tips from being just one of many political concerns to becoming a mass social movement. The existential question is, which tipping point will we hit first?

Conclusion 4 : we need to change the story

  • George Monbiot, Out of the Wreckage: ‘Despair is the state we fall into when our imagination fails. When we have no stories that describe the present and guide the future, hope evaporates. Political failure is, in essence, a failure of imagination. Without a new story that is positive and propositional, rather than reactive and oppositional, nothing changes. With such a story everything changes’. 
  • George Marshall, e01 : ‘We need passionate storytellers to break habitual patterns, discover alternative values and consider new perspectives’.

Conclusion 5 :  we need to connect our efforts

  • Todd Dufresne, e19: ‘Whoever survives these experiences will have a renewed appreciation for nature, for the external world, and for the necessity of collectivism in the face of mass extinction.’
  • Asad Rehman, Green Dreamer podcast (e378) : ‘Our goal is to keep our ideas and policies alive for when the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable’. 
  • George Monbiot, tweet November 13, 2021 :  ‘We have no choice but to raise the scale of civil disobedience until we have built the greatest mass movement in history.’

My question to you is ‘how can listening help’?


Cover drawing by Sabrina Mathews.

This episode is longer than the usual 5 minutes because that’s how long (8m30s) it took.

This episode is a selection of quotes and findings from my learning and unlearning journey about art and the ecological crisis that I presented during my keynote speech to the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology ‘Listening Pasts – Listening Futures’ conference on March 24, 2023 at the Atlantic Centre for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. I warmly thank all the artists and authors whom I quote in this episode.

I also thank the Canada Council for the Arts for support of the Sounding Modernity project and for travel funds to attend the WFAE conference. 

I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).

My gesture of reciprocity for this episode is a donation to Atlantic Center For The Arts.

The post e112 listening – how can listening help? appeared first on conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.


About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term “conscient” is defined as “being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations”. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my (2016-2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

season 1 (may – october 2020) : environmental awareness and action Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie”s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

season 2 (march – august 2021 ) : reality and ecological grief Season 2 (March 2021 ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that “I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, “the state of things as they actually exist”, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way”. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

season 3 (october 2021 – february 2022 ) : radical listening Season 3 was about radical listening : listening deeply without passing judgment, knowing the truth and filtering out the noise and opening attention to reality and responding to what needs to be done. The format is similar the first podcast format I did in 2016 with the simplesoundscapes project, which was to ‘speak my mind’ and ‘think out loud’. I start this season with a ‘soundscape composition’, e63 a case study (part 1) and e64 a case study (part 2), a bilingual speculative fiction radio play, set in an undergraduate university history seminar course called ‘History of 2021 in Canada’. It concluded with a soundscape composition ‘Winter Diary Revisited’.

season 4 (1 january – 31 december 2023) : sounding modernity


I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I”m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation :

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