We must not let loose our own subjectivity upon the pictures and make them its vehicles. We must begin by laying aside as completely as we can all our own preconceptions, interests, and associations. We must make room for Botticelli's Mars and Venus, or Cimbaue's Crucifixion, by emptying out our own. After the negative effort, the positive. We must use our eyes. We must look, and go on looking till we have certainly seen exactly what is there. We sit down before the picture in order for the picture to have something done to us, not that we may do things with it. The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way. (There is no good asking first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender, for until you have surrendered you cannot possibly find out.)It's a simple principle, not difficult at all (although, depending on the context, one might substitute ears for eyes, and so forth). The ridiculously irrational state of affairs in just about all "responsive" circles has become astonishingly intolerant. When reading, when debating, when participating in any form of discourse, get yourself out of the way as completely as you can. For those needing an even more pithy way of summarizing this principle: Give things a chance. That doesn't mean merely shouting at others, or letting your opponent say his or her bit before returning to your own imperious stump. Look. Listen. Dare to receive. Be patient. Engage.
from An Experiment In Criticism (1961)
Let us face facts: there is very little genuine debate right now, at least in larger discursive circles, including the current American election, a cacophonous farce of democracy. (Don't worry: the Canadian election was one, too.) Why? Because most people are talking rather than listening, imposing and superimposing themselves rather than hearing alternate ways of thinking. It never ceases amaze me the current penchant for demagoguery and the culture of polarization that has resulted from it-- on both sides of the political, intellectual, sociological (and so on and so forth) spectra. It destroys more than it creates, and it undermines more than it understands.