Rock Fish Stew is proud to introduce a new 10-part series for The Paris Review called Big, Bent Ears: A Serial in Documentary Uncertainty — the famed literary magazine’s first foray into multi-media storytelling. Launching March 4, 2015, the bi-weekly series explores the theme of careful listening, in all its various incarnations.
The name Big, Bent Ears derives from our two current projects, The Joseph Mitchell Project and The Big Ears Documentary Project. Joseph Mitchell, the mid-century chronicler of the back alleys of New York City, was renowned for his uncanny ear. His inimitable nonfiction works render many hours of conversation, captured in an age before tape recorders. Through long, deep listening, he weaves his way to the subtly devastating heart of his subjects’ stories. It’s no surprise that his first collection was called My Ears Are Bent.
Big Ears is one of the country’s preeminent experimental music festivals. It features the likes of composer Steve Reich, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, music-art icon Laurie Anderson, tUnE-yArDs, Nazoranai, and the Kronos Quartet, among many others. Musicians attest that the open, welcoming atmosphere in Knoxville, TN encourages listeners to expand their ears. In an age of quick hits and attention deficits, Big Ears focuses on long listening and the noncommercial craft of music and sound.
While Big, Bent Ears draws from these two projects, each chapter is free to digress naturally, hence the subtitle “A Serial in Documentary Uncertainty.” Incorporating video, audio, photography, and writing, some in refined form, others raw, our hope is that the theme of paying long, close attention will rub off on us, and we’ll reach new depths. Stay tuned.
The series will be available starting March 4 at www.bigbentears.org.