I know neat, smart, thoughtful people and I want make sure I truly hear them. Several of these neat, smart, thoughtful people were at Sequential Art Gallery last night for First Thursday, a monthly Portland art premiere. It was at First Thursday in August I learned from David Walker that he was writing something he couldn't publicly announce yet: a comic book about John Shaft. It was at last night's First Thursday and a bunch of other First Thursdays I've attended in the past that I saw neat art. (This month's Sequential Art Gallery show is inked artwork, by Patric Reynolds, from an Aliens comic that got stopped and revised from scratch in order to not accidentally be too much like the plot of Prometheus 2. Huh.)
And as much as I want to be as clever as my friends there, I made an effort just to listen. Also not to make cracks just to make cracks: I started to say one attempted joke and stopped telling it, thinking No, it wasn't that funny. Editing! And trying to add thoughts that actually add to the discussion, either thoughtfully or wittily. That was one of the reasons I never liked Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect: thoughtful comments were too easily torpedoed by some other guest wisecracking. I quote Dorothy Parker: "Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." (I do need more physical exercise, too, but I digress.)
Now to learn how to listen in a group without seeming to hover. Don't mind my quiet physical presence, people!