Transcribed: Julian Treasure Listen

Julian Treasure: I really want to thank Manuel. He’s put a sound guy on the stage in one of the world’s greatest concert halls. How happy am I! Fantastic! What a building!

I’d like to invite you for the next few minutes to listen, but in a different way perhaps to the way that you’re used to listening. My slide didn’t advance. Now it has, thank you. We have four modes of communication and if you ask people in research, almost everybody will say the most important of those four modes is in fact listening. There are two outputs, two inputs, two to do with the spoken word, two to do with the written word, but listening is what people always say is the most important one.

So let’s take a look at listening and just look at how much time we spend, of that communication time, that we spend, roughly 60 percent, depending on what you do and how much you’re involved in listening in your job, but up to 60 percent of that time is spent listening, and yet our listening comprehension is just 25 percent. In other words, three quarters of what I am saying to you will just go out of the room. Sadly, I’ll do my best, but this is true all the time in our spoken conversation. We lose three words out of four. We’re not very good at it are we? Could be a problem.

I’d like to ask you to consider what actually is listening. You may not have thought of this before. It’s obvious, isn’t it? It’s like with seeing, there’s looking. It’s an active form of the sense. With hearing, there’s listening. But what is it? How would you define it? I’d like to offer a definition to you. And it’s a very broad definition, but I think it’s a good one. Listening is making meaning from sound. That’s all the sound that surrounds us all the time. Not just conversation, and if that’s what listening is, behind that, there’s a fairly significant process.

It’s a process that’s got three stages. The first stage is a physical stage. Sound waves hit your eardrum, that’s deep inside your head. This is very intimate. It’s physical. Sound touches you right inside your head. Also, incidentally, your whole body is listening. So sound vibration is touching you all over. The second phase is that those physical contact. That turns into electric chemical activity, which results in neurons firing off in your brain. Now those two stages really, I would say are more about hearing than about listening. The third stage is where the listening really happens and that third stage is mental. Now if you think that there’s not much mental activity, you’re just listening to what’s going on.

Let me show you a long list of the things that we do in our minds to listen. There are three classes, first of all there’s pattern recognition. This is a very important trick that our minds use in order to listen to the world. There’s a well known effect called the Cocktail Party Effect. (Cocktail party sound starts). So if I’m talking to you, in a party, where there’s noise like this going on in the background, it’s quite hard to listen to the sounds sorts. And actually, that gets harder as your get older. I don’t like parties like that anymore because I find it really hard to hear what people are saying without doing this and looking like a very old person.

The second trick that we use in order to extract information is differencing. This sound is pink noise (pink noise sound starts) and if I were to play this noise at a slightly lower level, for five or six minutes, you would actually cease to hear it. Your brain would just say ok. I know what that’s doing. I’m not listening to that anymore. They play this in offices as masking sound and people just cease to hear it all together unless you turn it off.

And the third and very important aspect of the mental process of listening is filters. There are a long list of filters that we employ and they start with your culture. We heard a little bit of wonderful Portuguese culture and the sound that people are making earlier on, but right from your culture, for example, I don’t know if any of you know any Fins, the Fins have a different attitude to silence to any other nation I know. They love it, their idea of a good time is to go around to everybody’s house sit for three hours in silence and go home. I love the Fins because they do really relish that peace and that silence. Language itself is a huge filter for what we can listen to.

In some Sub-Saharan languages their tonal, so it’s just the tone of voice, which indicates, positive, negative. Even past and future are indicated just by tone of voice. So there’s a long list of the filters, your values, your attitudes, your beliefs, your expectations going into a situation very often determine what you hear. What you listen to and what you don’t and intentions, so important with sound. And if you think that you can’t change sound with your mind, I want to give you a demonstration of something called a cross-modal effect.

So I want you to look at the guy on the screen very carefully and then tell me what he’s saying. (Video of a man saying “baba” repeated over and over). “Dada” yes? Close your eyes. (Video of a man saying “baba” repeated over and over). You can try it again, open your eyes. (Video of a man saying “baba” repeated over and over). You can’t override that. Your eyes are changing what you hear. That’s an effect called the McGurk effect in and thanks very much to Professor Masser for that excellent demonstration of it. So wasn’t that an audio illusion and sound effects you’ll taste as well there are lots of things happening all the time between senses.

This is an experiment done by Charles Spencer at Oxford University where they boosted the frequency 55 kilohertz in a pair of headphones to people eating crisps and the response was people said the crisps were actually crunchier in their mouth because the frequency had been boosted. So the senses are affecting each other all the time, but we have a problem. The problem is we don’t listen.

I’m really absolutely with Ernest Hemingway in this one. Most of us never listen. We get by just barely conscious of the sound around us and there are reasons for this. We invented writing some thousands of years ago and now the premium on listening is not so great. And if you want to go to sleep now, you can watch this talk on the TED X Youtube channel later. So we don’t have to be so present. In the old days, if you missed it, you missed it.

But secondly, I think there’s a cultural thing going on. You may be familiar with the Chinese duality of Yin and Yang. Yin being female, receiving, dark, moon, lots of those kinds of words. Yang being male, much more about sending, light, and heat and so forth. If I substitute audio words for those two, I think you might agree with me that in our culture now we’re much more fond of telling than we are of listening. And if you have a whole lot of people telling, you end up with a world that looks like this and sounds like this. (Sound of lots of people talking). It’s a noisy, unpleasant place with a lot of people shouting to try and be heard.

And it’s no surprise that people take refuge in these. (Noise of loud headphones). Now I’ve talked in the another TED Talk about the health effects of headphones. I don’t want to cover that here, what I want to cover is the social effect of headphones. Of this kind of personal stereo because we take, and here’s the big blue, social space like this, or like a train station or like a train carriage where we used to listen to each other to some degree. And we’ve turned it into this. Thousands and thousands, millions and millions of little personal sound bubbles. Nobody is listening to anybody in that situation and there’s an effect to that on society I believe.

There are some other aspects which are degrading our listening. First of all, we don’t have any patience anymore. We don’t want oratory, we want sound bites. We don’t listen to albums anymore, we listen to tracks. We don’t want to watch TV programs, we channel them. Patience is very very short in supply these days and our media are shouting at us. Unless somebody really writes it big, “outrage” or “shock” we’re not bothered. And our listening is becoming desensitized and degraded so it’s very hard for us to hear the quiet, the subtle.

Children are very happy if they have got two or even three sources of stimulus happening at the same time. One they’re bored. So there are several issues that are happening with our listening and I do believe that we are in danger of losing our listening and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where nobody is listening to anybody because that way lies prejudice, judgment, violence, and even war. Listening is an antidote to all of those things so this is important.

So how do we get from that problem to a solution? Well I’d like to give you some little exercises. This is like a gym for listening I’m going to give you now. Some little exercises that you can take home with you, which will improve your listening no end. The first of those is this (silence). It’s rare to find silence in the modern world. Do try to find a few minutes everyday. It’s like a sorbet in a meal. It resets your ears, recalibrates you and allows you to hear the quiet. Again, just a few minutes of silence everyday.

Second is an exercise I call the mixer. Next time you’re in a noisy café like this. (Noisy café sound plays). Try and isolate how many separate sounds like channels of a mixing desk you’re listening to. How may people, how many different voices, how many baristas bashing on the counter. You can do it in lovely quiet environments like this as well. How many birds can I hear? How many individual ripples? You should really picture that recent mixing desk. It’s a great exercise for becoming acute with your listening.

The third one is savoring. Just like this guy is savoring his cup of coffee, we can say there are lots of normal sounds, regular sounds, even boring, mundane sounds. Here’s one I recorded just before I left. (Sound of tumble dryer plays). This is my tumble dryer at home. It’s quite groovy. I mean I could put a track on top of that or here’s another one which I’ve recorded in quite high fidelity and just listen to this simple kettle. (Sounds of kettle boiling). Wow there is richness in many sounds around us, and this is about hearing the hidden choir and you can do this all the time with sounds around you.

The fourth exercise is listening positions. I’m going to give you six very quickly. I’ve positioned them as parallel opposites. They’re not really and there are lots more that you could play with. First of all, there’s active listening. This is used in the caring professions a great deal and it’s around the question, “What I hear you say is?” “What you said is?” It’s reflecting back what somebody said and it leaves them feeling heard. At the other end of that scale, passive listening. This would be a zen master sitting by a stream. No intervention going on at all. Just listening. Beautiful.

Then we’ve got critical listening. This is what most of us do most of the time. Is that right or wrong? Do I agree with it? Do I disagree with it? Is it stupid? Is it wise? You’ve been doing that all day today as you assimilate TED input and let me tell you, you have to give up at some point. It’s not possible in a TED environment.

At the other end of that scale, we’ve got empathetic listening. This is where you just be with that person. You go into their island. You try and live their life and let them feel not just heard, but understood. And the last two, slight gender stereotype and the research does back up that men and women listen in very different ways. Men tend to listen for a point. I call it reductive listening, so there’s an objective in the conversation. Women on the other hand tend to enjoy the conversation and it doesn’t really matter where it goes, particularly, which results in a lot of conflict because men get frustrated. “Where are you going with this?” And women feel cut off, “You’re not listening to me,” which is the most common complaint in any relationship.

Fifth and finally, I want to just give you an acronym to use in your listening to all of your relationships. I mean you’ll be one of these people. I’m sure this applies to all of us. The acronym is RASA, which is the Sanskrit word for juice and it also means an expression of emotion in Indian theater. And those letters stand for receive, so you go “oh, mhm, mhm,” eye contact, “mhm.” Appreciate, “really, oh,” really getting involved in the conversation. Summarize, the word “so” is very important here. “So what you’re saying is?” “So that means.” And ask, “Oh! What happened after that?” “What are we going to do next?” RASA, it’s very powerful and you’ll be much better in your listening with that going on.

Now that is the phenomenology of listening. I want to spend the last minute of my time talking about the ontology the beingness of listening. I mean what would it be to be listening. Not the listener. Not the sound source. The bit in between.

Think about this. Listening, places you in space. You can hear this room. You can hear the microsounds of the people around you, even with your eyes shut you know where you are. And even more importantly, listening places you in time because all sound is in time. There is no such thing as a sound photograph. An instant of sound means nothing. Sound is really, as far as I’m concerned, how we experience time, most keenly the line of time because of the sound going on around us. It’s a flow. The French philosopher, Jean Luc Nancy says, “Sonority is time and meaning.” Herman Hesse said, “Music is time made aesthetically perceptible.”

I would suggest ladies and gentlemen that listening is how we evoke the universe. And I’m a sound guy. I love to listen, but I’d like to suggest we can all turn this around the other way and listen to live. Without listening fully, we’re not living fully. We’re not connected to the physical world, the metaphysical world, and most important of all, to each other. And we’re not turning up that whole dimension in our experience of the world. So I just want to thank you for listening to me today.



Transcribed: Crispy Squid in Ao Nang, Krabi

Mark Weins: It’s Mark Weins. I am in Ao Nang in Krabi—in the Krabi Province of Thailand and just kind of in between Ao Nang and a beach called Klong Haeng. There is a little stretch with a bunch of different street food restaurants that’s set up in the middle of the day. And they have all their fried foods set up and you can sit here and have lunch.

And also, actually they are having a—it’s like a little festival going on on the street right now, but normally when there is no festival, you can get a mat and sit on the beach and they will bring your food to you as you eat, which is kind of nice, but unfortunately, they’re having a festival right now for the next two weeks or so. So they have set up some tables here in the kind of in the grass underneath the coconut tree. So this is not a bad alternative for me. It’s still right next to the ocean just across the street and I’m enjoying the shade and the cool breeze and I’m about to dig in for lunch.

After choosing one of the restaurants, you just get a little basket and fill up whatever you want, whatever looks good so Ying and I pretty much got one of everything and they are all pretty much deep fried so it’s kind of a—well it kind of goes with the beach. Crispy deep fried food and the beach always goes well together. [Mark Weins speaking in Thai on 00:01:25-00:01:29].

Okay, all of the food has just arrived. So most of the items are deep fried and they are covered in a light batter, which is yellow which I’m sure is yellow from turmeric as this is the south of Thailand, but they also have kind of a mix of Esan food as well since they have Som Tam which is from northeastern Thailand and sticky rice, but then this is very southern style deep fried seafood dishes.

So I am going to go in for the squid first and the tentacles are my favorite part of the squid. Oh these are just extremely crispy still and yellow. Oh look at that. Forget about the spoon, I’m just going to go in with my fingers and pick up this—this French fry of squid and I think this is just a Thai sweet and sour sauce. Mmm. Wow. That is extremely crispy despite it just sitting out there. I don’t know how it stays so crispy, but extremely crispy.

The squid is definitely fresh and not rubbery at all and then that sauce is kind of like a sweet Thai chili sauce, but kind of ketchupy tasting. So the sauce is not my favorite, but the squid is definitely delicious. Very—yes very fresh and nice and not rubbery at all. Ying just come close with the camera. You got to record the crunchiness sound.

This is a southern style of Goong Tod, which is fried shrimp and you can just see. It is like a whole fritter actually, but on the bottom is a whole bed of leaves which I can’t remember the name of right now and then a shrimp is covering it and then it’s in that light batter that same light batter as the squid and the fish which is turmeric filled. And then that whole crispy layer of stack of leaves. This one is just Num Chim seafood, which is chilis and garlic and this is my much more preferred sauce over the ketchupy tomato sauce—ketchupy chili sauce.

Wow. That is insanely crispy. It’s like layers of vegetable chips stacked on top of each other, and a shrimp on the very top of everything. Yes, just like a deep fried sandwich. That’s where it’s at. Oh yes. That should be good. Oh I lost something. Wow, that is ridiculously crispy and like a giant 3D chip.

Let me just clear my mouth from all that crispiness and take a bite of the Som Tam and you can actually see the little—you can actually see where did I? There are some chunks of the Bala in here as well, the fermented fish. Look at that. That’s a whole piece of fermented—extremely fermented fish. Okay, I’ll taste it. Wow. That is strong and extremely salty. That tastes like fish cheese.

One of the signature dishes or shells in Krabi is called Hoy Shakteen and this is something you cannot come to Krabi without eating because it is very famous here. In Thailand it’s known for only being available in Krabi and it’s called Hoy Shakteen because of this. They call this little thing the foot, which in Thai is the “teen” and “shak” is to like pull out.

So you just kind of pull out the foot—oh yes it’s a little—and it just slides right out. Boom. You got a little foot handle with the little shell. I’m going to dip real fast. That tastes almost like squid, same texture and almost the same flavor and then that—yes, that Num Chim Seafood is good. That’s just like a sour, garlicky, chili sauce. For soup we got a mixed seafood Tom Yum. Oh there are mussels in here, there’s shrimp and.

Ying: Squid.

Mark Weins: There’s squid also—yes and onions. Let me just taste some of that broth real fast. Oh that’s hot, but that tastes tomatoey. It’s just a little bit sour, not spicy, but that just—it’s ok, not wonderful, but it goes well with all the rest of the dishes.

Finally, to complete this meal on the beach in Ao Nang, we got a fried fish, which is in the same batter and deep fried as well. Let me rip off a piece and put it on my plate with that Num Chim Seafood. Put that on top. Oh, I got a little chunk of the vegetable from the shrimp fritter that ended up in the sauce. The meat is kind of like tuna. It’s really fleshy and really meaty, almost like chicken and then yes it has that same crispiness on the outside and then that Num Chim Seafood is very good.

I’ve decided to ditch all silverware, but actually the fish is one of my favorite things here. It’s really rich and creamy and meaty and fleshy. And yes the fish has so much—yes it’s like—it’s just a good fish yes. And that garlic and chilis makes it even better. Oh yes. That fish is my favorite.

We finished off that meal. It was a little on the greasy side, but made a good beach lunch and unfortunately we can’t—we don’t have a view of the ocean because of the festival, but the ocean is right across there and if you come when there is no festival which there isn’t most of the time. You can get a mat and sit right on the beach and then they’ll bring the food to you across the road and you can sit there. But I was pretty happy just to sit here in the grass underneath the coconut tree and luckily a coconut did not fall on my head during the meal. But that was good, a little on the greasy side, but yes, good. Ao Nang, Krabi style beach, beach food.

Transcribed: How to Make Thai Squid with Shrimp Paste

Mark Weins: Hey everyone, it’s Mark Weins with and I’m in Bangkok, Thailand and I’m going to make the recipe now for a dish called Pla Meuk Pad Kapi, which is squid stir-fried with shrimp paste and it’s a wonderful dish and the inspiration for this recipe is from a restaurant that I ate at in Nakon Pathom, which is about 45 minutes from Bangkok at a restaurant called Yee San. It was just a wonderful dish so I’m going to try to recreate her recipe and make it here at home so keep watching this recipe and let’s experiment in the street food kitchen together.

This is a really simple recipe, just a few marvelous ingredients. I’m going to go with a full head of garlic. Garlic peeled. I’m going to grab my mortar. The first thing that goes in is a bunch of black peppercorns. You really just want to give it just a really course light pound because the pepper is the main flavor—one of the main flavors in this dish so that’s actually just about good. You just want to basically crack the peppers so that should be perfect right there.

And I’ll toss in the garlic and again just pound, just for a couple seconds, that’s it. Just break open those cloves of garlic. I’m going to just stick that into—actually, yes I’ll just keep it in this and then I’ll stir fry it right out of there. Next up is green onions. I’ve got about three things of—three green onions. Get rid of the bottom and then just cut it into pretty big bite sized pieces, kind of like about that size is perfect. Go ahead and set these aside and we’ll come back to them after we cut the squid.

For this recipe, I’m just going to use one squid. Aw and this is a beauty. I’d say this is about two or three hundred grams of a squid. First thing we are going to do is just pull out the head. Aw and that just slides out nicely. Aw! I think there’s a bunch of eggs in here too. Oh yes. Some eggs, oh no, okay. Aw there’s like a big. Aw ho ho ho. Oh I think that’s eggs. Is it eggs Ying? Okay that’s eggs and then you also want to pull out this, the piece plastic stuff in it. Okay and that goes out.

In order to clean the head, I’m going to try take out the eyeballs, the eyeballs on either side, as well as the like suction at the top. Kind of cut into the head of the squid and oh there we want to remove that. That thing right there which is like the suction I think. Should be an eyeball on—oh I just squirted the eyeball. Okay, that’s okay. I’ll wash it anyways. This is not the most graceful squid cutting, but anyway. Alright, there’s one eyeball.

I’m going to cut these two long strands, tentacles. Cut them off and then cut this in half. And then for the main body here, we’re just going to cut it into rings. I’m going to just give this squid a thorough rinse in water.

I’m going to turn on my fire. And basically you want to turn on your heat as high as your stove can go. Which you need a pretty—pretty generous amount of oil. That should be good. This is going to be a really quick stir-fry job so you got to have all your ingredients ready. Okay first thing, I’m going to add in the garlic and pepper. Aw! That smells amazing. Shrimp paste goes in and really work that into the oil and then squid.

And you can add a little bit of water and then finally, just a little bit of oyster sauce. And then once your squid is done, it’s fully cooked, which I think like one more minute, we’ll turn off the heat. And just make sure your squid is cooked. Should be kind of firm. And then the final step, toss in all of the green onions. Give it just one stir and you can pretty much turn off your heat right as you add the green onions.

Aw! That sizzle. Alright, and then put it onto a plate immediately so it doesn’t keep on cooking. A plate immediately, you want those green onions to be nice and crisp and fresh. Aw! That smells beautiful.

Okay, I’m sitting down to eat now. I got a hot fresh plate of rice. My favorite part of the squid is the tentacles so I’m going straight for this piece. Let me get some of that—those green onions and you can see how they’ve already wilted just from the—just from throwing them in when we turned off the heat. And there are big chunks of black pepper in there, there’s garlic.

Oh yes, okay onto the rice. Break a piece and oh, get a bunch of green onions on there. Oh yeah. Now that is a wonderful way to cook squid. Those green onions are just flash cooked so they are still crisp and just have that real sharp oniony flavor, green onion flavor. But what really comes out in the squid is the black pepper. That black pepper is just outrageously fragrant. Incredibly good, and then just a hint of the shrimp paste that comes through with a little bit of saltiness. The squid is nice and tender. Oh man, it’s garlicky. That is just a truly beautiful way to cook squid.

At the bottom of this video, you will find a link to the full recipe. Go check that out for all the details and description about this recipe and more delicious photos. If you have a friend who also loves Thai food, I would really appreciate it if you would share this recipe with them. That would really help us out and other than that, if you have any questions, leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you. And thank you very much for watching and keep cooking and eating Thai food.