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The Audience and Agency

  • 06-02-2019 8:58pm
    #1
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Nightinggale said that audiences are "a way of describing how humans come to know the world through systems of mediated representation" (2004 p228). It wasn't always this way, there was a time when we were viewed as passive agents to the media that we consume with no discernible way of making our own meaning from it. Webster (1998) notes that we use our own interpretation of everyday text and this changes from person to person giving a large scope of interpretation.

    The arguments about audience agency swing back and forth. Eg. McCombs & Shaw (1972) believes media shapes what we should "think about", whereas Hovland's (2017) study back in the 1940s found little effect.

    Thoughts?




    Hovland, C. I., & Lumsdaine, A. A. (2017). Experiments on mass communication (Vol. 4976). Princeton University Press.

    McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. L. (1972). The agenda-setting function of mass media. Public opinion quarterly, 36(2), 176-187.

    Nightingale, Virginia, ed. 2011. The Handbook of Media Audiences. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Webster, James G. 1998. “The Audience.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 42(2): pp. 190-207


Comments

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    Mediated audience a complex topic. Advertisers benefit, or they would not advertise. Education a factor. Suspect that the higher, the more diverse POV. Big data now rules. Targeting audiences through multiple media outlets. From Stanford's (somewhat dated) black box to today's algorithm-driven messages.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Mediated audience a complex topic. Advertisers benefit, or they would not advertise. Education a factor. Suspect that the higher, the more diverse POV. Big data now rules. Targeting audiences through multiple media outlets. From Stanford's (somewhat dated) black box to today's algorithm-driven messages.

    Fair point. Telecommunications has changed so much and has become so all encompassing (compared to TV 50 years ago etc) that things like big data could not have been comprehended by early studies into media audiences.


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    Communications rule.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Communications rule.

    Could there be something to Laswell's "hypodermic effect" when it comes to newer digital communications? Older forms of media may not have had such as impact, but newer forms of media (Web 2.0 and the increasing amount of screen time) now something of a game changer.


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    Uses and gratifications will vary by individuals and groups as an alternative? An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research, edited by Don W. Stacks, Michael B. Salwen.


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Uses and gratifications will vary by individuals and groups as an alternative? An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research, edited by Don W. Stacks, Michael B. Salwen.

    Are their limitations in instructing how audiences think, but at the same time able to - as McCombs once noted - shape the things we talk about?


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    mzungu wrote: »
    Are their limitations in instructing how audiences think, but at the same time able to - as McCombs once noted - shape the things we talk about?
    Subliminal images. Are they still used in film? Advertising? Political spots?


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Subliminal images. Are they still used in film? Advertising? Political spots?

    Not so much subliminal, it would be a case of being more direct than that.

    Some studies show that TV shapes perception of a world the viewer does not inhabit. I.e. News reports of happenings in foreign countries etc.

    Somewhat related, political campaigns are colossal and hardly ever cease even outside of the campaign trail. It is overt but because it is all encompassing it goes under the radar.


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    Media audience. Fox News vs CNN, MSNBC, etc. Targeted audiences draw advertisers. Associated profits. Tell audience what they already believe about issues? Behavioral reinforcement overtime?


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Media audience. Fox News vs CNN, MSNBC, etc. Targeted audiences draw advertisers. Associated profits. Tell audience what they already believe about issues? Behavioral reinforcement overtime?

    Good point. John Zaller wrote about that. Well, it's somewhat related to it. The crux of his argument is that by and large they cancel each other out. Everybody sticks to what they believe in and campaigns do little else but reenforce that.


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    mzungu wrote: »
    Good point. John Zaller wrote about that. Well, it's somewhat related to it. The crux of his argument is that by and large they cancel each other out. Everybody sticks to what they believe in and campaigns do little else but reenforce that.
    Audiences tend to watch media that confirms what they already believe.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Audiences tend to watch media that confirms what they already believe.

    Would this depend on the active level of user engagement with the medium?

    Eg. Stuart Hall’s Encoding/Decoding essay offers a potential guideline as to how messages are produced, disseminated and interpreted. The meanings are produced by the sender and interpreted by the reciever via a theoretical framework of four parts namely ‘production, circulation, distribution/consumption, reproduction'. TV programmes come prepackaged with meanings intended to be consumed by the receiver.

    Nobody knows forsake how that message will be received, which is where the fun part comes in. Some will take the message as intended (usually those of a similar ideological viewpoint), others understand the message but put their own view on it, and lastly would be an entirely different interpretation than the one that was intended.

    Where would the average audience member sit on the three ways listed?


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    mzungu wrote: »

    Eg. Stuart Hall’s Encoding/Decoding essay
    Found the Stuart Hall "Encoding/Decoding" chapter 13 PDF. Interesting reading. Thanks for reference.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Found the Stuart Hall "Encoding/Decoding" chapter 13 PDF. Interesting reading. Thanks for reference.

    You're welcome :)

    Some of his peers argued that encoding/decoding was too wide in scope and that there was always the presumption that media text was littered with ideology and the audience actively engaged in one way or another.

    I would disagree with that view. IMO, everything is ideology. It may be prevalent, or it may only be a passing reference, but it's always there. There is nothing wrong with it either, just always best to be aware of it.


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    mzungu wrote: »
    IMO, everything is ideology. It may be prevalent, or it may only be a passing reference, but it's always there. There is nothing wrong with it either, just always best to be aware of it.
    Weberian non-value-free.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Weberian non-value-free.

    More or less, yep. I mean, didn't Weber believe they should be separately entirely? A fair point, but so often the two are meshed together so it can be tricky trying to separate them both.


  • Registered Users Posts: 65 ✭✭ micky jammy delahunty


    mzungu wrote: »

    I would disagree with that view. IMO, everything is ideology. It may be prevalent, or it may only be a passing reference, but it's always there. There is nothing wrong with it either, just always best to be aware of it.

    But this puts you in the class of people who see ideology as ideology, and recognises that ideology has a function in reality. As opposed to someone who experiences their ideology as reality. This leads to all kinds of confusion and misunderstanding. Take the Nazis. To the outside observer, when the Nazis spoke of Jews and other groups being infections, bacteria, etc making the body of the nation sick, these terms can seem like derogatory metaphors, but they are not, it's in fact a very literal belief. So, when the full facts of the Holocaust emerge, and more are still emerging, this leads to confusion and shock in those who had interpreted the statements of Nazis ideology as metaphoric terms, when they were literal.


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    Garth Morgan in Images of Organization suggested that metaphors were useful to foster discussion. But they where not to be taken literally, as they were distortions of reality.


  • Registered Users Posts: 65 ✭✭ micky jammy delahunty


    Fathom wrote: »
    Garth Morgan in Images of Organization suggested that metaphors were useful to foster discussion. But they where not to be taken literally, as they were distortions of reality.

    The word literal is itself a metaphor; things are not themselves the words or names they have. To quickly compress modern critical theory of literature, words are just a means of communication, they have no absolute interpretation, there can never be perfect communication, and underlying reality;the Real, can never be known, people may agree on what is reality, but that's just a matter of opinions, and interpretations which can never be perfectly coherent. Two people can completely agree on something being either near or faraway, without an absolute agreement on what those ambiguous terms mean. London is near, Beijing is faraway. Beijing is near, the Moon is faraway.

    The predecessors to the modern theory, were, and are, religious disputes over how to read the religious texts. In Islam, the dispute that keeps arising is between groups saying the texts contain metaphors, allegories, multiple interpellations, and multiples of valid interpretations, where other groups have insisted on a "literal" interpretation with no innovations, and a return to a purer form of single interpretation, that was ever a single Real, ruling interpretation. Judaism had such a problem with the original text of the Torah, that a complete set of secondary texts of the Talmud was created; arriving at treat the secondary text as the primary text, and view the primary text as secondary.

    The word organisation and fascism. The most conventional use of the word organise, is simply to order and arrange things; you organise your socks. Then you have organs in your body, and corpse is another word for body, and corporation comes from this concept of a body. Imagine if you see society as a body, humans in that society the cells of the body, ordered into organs like in a body, and when these organs act in harmony, the society is fit, well, and happy...And when the body is sick, obviously, the organs and cells are not functioning as they should...Are anus cells getting into the brain?....Are cells not fitting in?..Only the brain cells should do the thinking and they must all think alike, otherwise the brain will malfunction...The anus cells shouldn't think at all, they should just follow orders from the brain....Are there cancers growing....Are there foreign bodies leading to infections... And I can go on.

    In the post-war period soldiers of the Wehrmacht are interviewed. Some give very straightforward and rational explanations for all the actions of the war, to them the biological terms were just metaphors. They believed they had engaged in a war with conventional material objectives. Then other soldiers in interviews, admit they completely believed the biological terminology to be absolutely real and not metaphoric; they were fighting infections they were rooting out cancers, they were cleansing the body. These are two extremely different understandings of the world, that managed to function together without conflict. But simultaneously both believing they shared a homogeneous ideology.

    How audiences experience media. The Hunger Games. Metropolitan socialists viewed it as a critique of contemporary capitalism. But, a complete reversal is also possible, and likely the original intention of the author; it can be viewed as homophobic, racist, and fascistic, with the contemporary metropolitan socialists as the enemy, of the honest volk, who conform to norms of undisruptive thought and behaviour, which are the absolute necessities for the survival of the body, yet are cheated out their just rewards.


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    Derrida discussed signature. Referred how authors were interpreted by others. Observed that there were substantial differences. Between author's meaning and those interpreting their works. Often taken out of context. Or cherry picked in ways to support the interpreter's agenda.


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    But this puts you in the class of people who see ideology as ideology, and recognises that ideology has a function in reality. As opposed to someone who experiences their ideology as reality. This leads to all kinds of confusion and misunderstanding. Take the Nazis. To the outside observer, when the Nazis spoke of Jews and other groups being infections, bacteria, etc making the body of the nation sick, these terms can seem like derogatory metaphors, but they are not, it's in fact a very literal belief. So, when the full facts of the Holocaust emerge, and more are still emerging, this leads to confusion and shock in those who had interpreted the statements of Nazis ideology as metaphoric terms, when they were literal.

    To give your example of the Hunger Games, there was ideology there. The author may have meant it to be something different, the audiences took their own slant on it. The media we consume, or the adverts we look at, somebody, somewhere has produced them. Whether its brand recognition with say, Nike, you are buying into what they like to project about themselves. Same with expensive perfume or whatever. You are buying into the ideal, now some may have a different view of that ideal than others, but the company don't really care as long as the product is purchased.

    I get what you are saying about the Nazis, but because Hitlers ideology could be taken as metaphor and as real by a large amount of people which all led them to the same conclusion signify that this was deliberate on his part?

    Ideology is evident in most, if not all things, but to be aware of it as about the best you can do. The interpretation that can be taken from it will always differ among individuals, sometimes its benign (meanings from tv shows) and sometimes horribly malignant (the Nazis).


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,100 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Black Swan


    mzungu wrote: »
    To give your example of the Hunger Games, there was ideology there. The author may have meant it to be something different, the audiences took their own slant on it.
    To repeat something mentioned before attributed to Max Weber in Economy and Society (1922): No one is value free.


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    mzungu wrote: »
    To give your example of the Hunger Games, there was ideology there.
    Herbert Spencer's survival of the fittest?


  • Registered Users Posts: 65 ✭✭ micky jammy delahunty


    mzungu wrote: »
    To give your example of the Hunger Games, there was ideology there. The author may have meant it to be something different, the audiences took their own slant on it.

    There are somethings, you don't need to know how to do, but you can even be quite good at doing, without any idea of how you're doing it. And story telling is one of those things. If you're consciously aware of all the kinds of techniques that can be used, you can consciously create sophisticated texts. But you don't need to know, or even really know what you're trying to say, when you say it.


    Let's take Suzanne Collins, the Hunger Games author. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut, which was once the wealthiest city in America, but only for a short time, losing out nearly all of its' wealth generating business to nearby New York. Hartford, is notable for having been a run down dump for a very long time, but you can see plenty of evidence in its' architecture of former glory, but now it has some of the worst poverty in America. New York is a spectacular mega city. The folk narrative of Hartford, is we are poor because of New York. And this is in fact true, but it's not like someone evil people got together in New York, and contrived to rob the Hartfordarians, it's just how history twists and turns.

    But there are so many different ways you can tell this story, and you may not be aware that this folk tale of your place of origin is deeply embedded into your being; shaping all your perspectives, literally a hidden narrator who tells you a story about everything you see in the world, and makes you see everything through this lens.

    Suzanne could have been complete aware of all this, and she wanted to write a story; so she took people and their stories from a real world she knew, and constructed a fictional world. But there is the possibility she had absolutely no awareness of where any of these stories were coming from. If you're riding a train, from Hartford to New York for the first time, you're likely to have a very powerful experience as New York looms into view. That these experiences appear in the book, and are so integral, it doesn't seem likely that they're random coincidences.

    The media we consume, or the adverts we look at, somebody, somewhere has produced them. Whether its brand recognition with say, Nike, you are buying into what they like to project about themselves. Same with expensive perfume or whatever. You are buying into the ideal, now some may have a different view of that ideal than others, but the company don't really care as long as the product is purchased.

    Yes, if you're doing straightforward Marx's commodity fetishism, where you're superimposing elements that are not actually in the product; a razor blade ad, where an attractive woman strokes a man's face after he shaves and kisses him. And the consumer, if they fall for this trick, which they do, will run out and buy the razors believing their getting the girl. There are other tricks that are nastier, like using social ideology, to state something like you are bad mother if you do not buy this product. But in advertising, the public is not the only market, the client who writes the cheque that pays the bills at the advertising agency is also, if not the most important target, of the advertising. If the client is some kind of jackass, and they have some ideological perspective say concerning women, at a very minimum, they do not want their ideological perspectives challenged, cause em anxiety, which can lead them to rejecting the ad agencies product. So, within advertising, political ideology irrelevant to the product gets heavily embedded.



    I get what you are saying about the Nazis, but because Hitlers ideology could be taken as metaphor and as real by a large amount of people which all led them to the same conclusion signify that this was deliberate on his part?

    I can say, a lot of what could be interpreted as metaphor, in Hitler's case, absolutely was not, because he did gas all those people. Which is like an angry friend tells you they're going to murder their husband when they get home.......And you disregard it as merely a figure of speech.....Then you turn on the late night news, an there they are, a kind of confused looking woman covered in splashes of something red being led away in hand cuffs....

    But, something very important about Hitler's public persona, how many elements of conscious applications of psychoanalysis, and manipulation went into the performances; and this comes from Goebbels's interest in psychoanalysis and advertising, Edward Bernays was a nephew of Freud, and he applied psychoanalysis to advertising, and other relations of Freud are also now personally super rich from doing the same thing.

    Concerning meaning...One of the techniques Hitler used in his rants, was the insertions of pure meaningless gibberish. The aim was, people are primed to hear their biases, and they like to hear their biases confirmed, under the right conditions, you can get people to project their meaning into something that is absolutely meaningless, and they are convinced they have received meaning from that thing......This technique is frequently used in the arts...An example I like to give, is Massive Attack's Tear Drop...Because it's a popular song, and people are very familiar with it, and if asked some people could possibly write down a complete set of coherent lyrics...but..only a few snatches of the lyrics of the song are in English and the rest is not in any language...if you heard anything different, it's because you heard what the author wanted you to hear, which is a song that the author did not write, and only exists in you.

    The art of good story telling is to make the audience believe you are telling them a story, but in fact, you are making them tell the story.


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    There are somethings, you don't need to know how to do, but you can even be quite good at doing, without any idea of how you're doing it. And story telling is one of those things. If you're consciously aware of all the kinds of techniques that can be used, you can consciously create sophisticated texts. But you don't need to know, or even really know what you're trying to say, when you say it.
    Does this exclude or include vicarious learning? Example. Grandpa tells stories. As children we listen. Learn story telling by example. Later we follow by example. Tell stories.


  • Registered Users Posts: 65 ✭✭ micky jammy delahunty


    Fathom wrote: »
    Does this exclude or include vicarious learning? Example. Grandpa tells stories. As children we listen. Learn story telling by example. Later we follow by example. Tell stories.

    No kind of learning can be discounted. The simple principle of the Cogito; I think there for I am, can be reformulated in all kinds of ways, such as, I exist because I can tell a story about my existence. And where the Cogito causes a headache for philosophers, is how do you know that story about your existence is true. If you don't think about it, you don't get a headache, but you also don't realise that you're constantly telling yourself stories about the world, and you continue telling the world stories.


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    No kind of learning can be discounted. The simple principle of the Cogito; I think there for I am, can be reformulated in all kinds of ways, such as, I exist because I can tell a story about my existence. And where the Cogito causes a headache for philosophers, is how do you know that story about your existence is true. If you don't think about it, you don't get a headache, but you also don't realise that you're constantly telling yourself stories about the world, and you continue telling the world stories.

    "I think therefore I am." René Descartes?


  • Registered Users Posts: 65 ✭✭ micky jammy delahunty


    Fathom wrote: »
    "I think therefore I am." René Descartes?

    Yeah, that's the Cogito....In philosophy for the sake of abbreviation, Cogito Ergo Sum, is just shortened to the Cogito. And then you can talk about the problems of the Cogito. The Cartesian Cogito, a bit like you hear Cartesian geometry. The basic problem is, you think you are real because you think, but what makes you think that you is real, how for example do you know that you are not a character in a book that an author gives life to, including internal thought processes which seem free and real.


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    ...how for example do you know that you are not a character in a book that an author gives life to, including internal thought processes which seem free and real.
    Fruitful discussion for audience and agency.


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    There are somethings, you don't need to know how to do, but you can even be quite good at doing, without any idea of how you're doing it. And story telling is one of those things. If you're consciously aware of all the kinds of techniques that can be used, you can consciously create sophisticated texts. But you don't need to know, or even really know what you're trying to say, when you say it.


    Let's take Suzanne Collins, the Hunger Games author. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut, which was once the wealthiest city in America, but only for a short time, losing out nearly all of its' wealth generating business to nearby New York. Hartford, is notable for having been a run down dump for a very long time, but you can see plenty of evidence in its' architecture of former glory, but now it has some of the worst poverty in America. New York is a spectacular mega city. The folk narrative of Hartford, is we are poor because of New York. And this is in fact true, but it's not like someone evil people got together in New York, and contrived to rob the Hartfordarians, it's just how history twists and turns.

    But there are so many different ways you can tell this story, and you may not be aware that this folk tale of your place of origin is deeply embedded into your being; shaping all your perspectives, literally a hidden narrator who tells you a story about everything you see in the world, and makes you see everything through this lens.

    Suzanne could have been complete aware of all this, and she wanted to write a story; so she took people and their stories from a real world she knew, and constructed a fictional world. But there is the possibility she had absolutely no awareness of where any of these stories were coming from. If you're riding a train, from Hartford to New York for the first time, you're likely to have a very powerful experience as New York looms into view. That these experiences appear in the book, and are so integral, it doesn't seem likely that they're random coincidences.
    Aye. I suppose an even more current example might be The Handmaids Tale. Written at a different time but has been given new meaning by the current goings on in the White House. Obviously none of that was intended at the time (even when they started making the show) but these things are malleable, maybe that's what adds to their longevity?
    Yes, if you're doing straightforward Marx's commodity fetishism, where you're superimposing elements that are not actually in the product; a razor blade ad, where an attractive woman strokes a man's face after he shaves and kisses him. And the consumer, if they fall for this trick, which they do, will run out and buy the razors believing their getting the girl. There are other tricks that are nastier, like using social ideology, to state something like you are bad mother if you do not buy this product. But in advertising, the public is not the only market, the client who writes the cheque that pays the bills at the advertising agency is also, if not the most important target, of the advertising. If the client is some kind of jackass, and they have some ideological perspective say concerning women, at a very minimum, they do not want their ideological perspectives challenged, cause em anxiety, which can lead them to rejecting the ad agencies product. So, within advertising, political ideology irrelevant to the product gets heavily embedded.
    In some cases more overt that others, but it is always there in some form or another.
    I can say, a lot of what could be interpreted as metaphor, in Hitler's case, absolutely was not, because he did gas all those people. Which is like an angry friend tells you they're going to murder their husband when they get home.......And you disregard it as merely a figure of speech.....Then you turn on the late night news, an there they are, a kind of confused looking woman covered in splashes of something red being led away in hand cuffs....

    But, something very important about Hitler's public persona, how many elements of conscious applications of psychoanalysis, and manipulation went into the performances; and this comes from Goebbels's interest in psychoanalysis and advertising, Edward Bernays was a nephew of Freud, and he applied psychoanalysis to advertising, and other relations of Freud are also now personally super rich from doing the same thing.

    Concerning meaning...One of the techniques Hitler used in his rants, was the insertions of pure meaningless gibberish. The aim was, people are primed to hear their biases, and they like to hear their biases confirmed, under the right conditions, you can get people to project their meaning into something that is absolutely meaningless, and they are convinced they have received meaning from that thing......This technique is frequently used in the arts...An example I like to give, is Massive Attack's Tear Drop...Because it's a popular song, and people are very familiar with it, and if asked some people could possibly write down a complete set of coherent lyrics...but..only a few snatches of the lyrics of the song are in English and the rest is not in any language...if you heard anything different, it's because you heard what the author wanted you to hear, which is a song that the author did not write, and only exists in you.

    The art of good story telling is to make the audience believe you are telling them a story, but in fact, you are making them tell the story.
    Just on the Massive Attack part, do you mean that people sing along and don't know what the lyrics are, or that the lyrics sound like they are in English and the listener fills in the blanks? I have most likely got you wrong because I could have sworn there were actual lyrics.

    Edit: a quick Google shows this:
    Love, love is a verb
    Love is a doing word
    Fearless on my breath
    Gentle impulsion
    Shakes me, makes me lighter
    Fearless on my breath
    Teardrop on the fire
    Fearless on my breath
    Night, night of matter
    Black flowers blossom
    Fearless on my breath
    Black flowers blossom
    Fearless on my breath
    Teardrop on the fire
    Fearless on my
    Water is my eye
    Most faithful mirror
    Fearless on my breath
    Teardrop on the fire
    Of a confession
    Fearless on my breath
    Most faithful mirror
    Fearless on my breath
    Teardrop on the fire
    Fearless on my breath
    It's tumbling down (as in love falling apart)
    It's tumbling down (as in love falling apart)
    Songwriters: Elizabeth Fraser / Robert Del Naja / Grantley Marshall / Andrew Vowles
    Teardrop lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

    Second Edit: Great song.


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