Whilst downloading e-mail once or twice during that time, I was sent a link (from two different sources) about a social experiment done by some staffers at The Washington Post magazine, and one of the most popular classical violinists of our time. Being a Josh Bell fan, I was drawn to go check it out for myself, but had to wait until this morning, after all our busy fun of the weekend.
The article is long, but wonderful, as it is a very thorough (yet maybe somewhat flawed) study in one microcosm of time. It is still an excellent experiment, of which the outcome is not too surprising. I did enjoy the follow up comments included within the article, but comments from readers are funny to thoughtful, as well. Maybe some of them miss the point or take it too seriously...which is what makes it funny (to me).
Back to some quotes from the article:
"IF A GREAT MUSICIAN PLAYS GREAT MUSIC BUT NO ONE HEARS . . . WAS HE REALLY ANY GOOD?"
"Bell has played, literally, before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro?"
"When you play for ticket-holders," Bell explains, "you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I'm already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don't like me? What if they resent my presence . . ."
Context matters. I also think timing matters.
The article continues:
"Kant said the same thing. He took beauty seriously: In his Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, Kant argued that one's ability to appreciate beauty is related to one's ability to make moral judgments. But there was a caveat. Paul Guyer of the University of Pennsylvania, one of America's most prominent Kantian scholars, says the 18th-century German philosopher felt that to properly appreciate beauty, the viewing conditions must be optimal."I agree!
Next, the article's writer points out that ALL children strained and tried to stop, look, and listen, but were forced onward by their parents.
The writer quotes my favorite modern poet (no secret to my readers with all the Billy Collins references plastered on and throughout the booksncoffeehaus blog :-)
"Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too."
The article wraps up thusly:
"But he (Bell) is back in the States this week. He has to be. On Tuesday, he will be accepting the Avery Fisher prize, recognizing the Flop of L'Enfant Plaza as the best classical musician in America."
I like a person who can laugh at themselves and roll with life.
It's pretty inspiring, actually :-).