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Re: Do We Perceive Beauty in an Unexpected Context

Interesting thread -- wish I had time to read it all in detail, but I've got art to do-:)

In response to the subject line (as opposed to the story) I offer this link to a photo essay entitled "Ugly Beauty" (after a tune by Thelonious Monk) http://www.flickr.com/photos/22231918@N06/sets/72157627050182543

In response to the story, I offer a number of thoughts:

1.      Not everybody has developed a taste for Bach.

2. When I visit New York, I frequently encounter buskers in the (much louder than the metro) NY subways. The sonic context is of great importance here. Delicate sounds can be so overwhelmed by the ambient noise as to be annoying. A cheap amp can turn most anything to crap.African Drums (which I would enjoy in another context) sound very unpleasant in a hyper-reverberant space like Times Square. Boring pop song covers are simply annoying. Occasionally I encounter a jazz soloist of some merit or a soloist on an intriguing ethnic instrument and I listen with pleasure until my train comes and toss a buck in the hat.

Rick, I'm (pun intended) waiting for you to drop the promised other shoe.

At 10:17 PM -0800 2/19/12, Rick Walker wrote:
We've had so many thought provoking discussions here at Loopers Delight 
of the nicest runs in this site's history) lately, about philosophy.

Tonight. in an introspective mood,  I saw two things posted to Facebook:

I'll repost one here and one in the next email because they concern diffrerent topics.
I found one depressing and one inspiring but they both inspired meditation.


A man sat at a metro stationin Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

"I rang a silent bell ..."  -- Robert Hunter
"... cast your dancing spell my way, I promise to go under it" -- Bob Dylan

My photography can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/22231918@N06/collections/72157603627170351/

My videos can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/Tobenfeld