Listening to the Form rather than to the Content of what is said

But he had lost Bill, who was no longer listening to the content of what Mark said — only its form. Bill was listening to the emotional shapes Mark was making. In the rising and falling of tone, the bunching and stretching of rhythm, he was able to discern the architecture of Mark’s past history: the outhouses of unfeeling and evasion; the vestibules of need and recrimination; the garages of wounding and abuse. All of it comprehensively planned together, so as to form a compound of institutionalization and neglect. Bill honed his ears, concentrating on this shading in of a sad blueprint.

— Will Self, “Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys”

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