Pearls Before Breakfast

Article: Pearls Before Breakfast –

A journalist at the Washington Post had a great idea: have Joshua Bell, one of the world’s premier violinists (and his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin) play in a busy, downtown subway station during morning rush hour and see if anyone notices. If you want to find out from the article, stop reading this now and go read the article. Otherwise, here’s the answer: hardly anyone stopped to listen, sadly. This article uses this for some pretty in-depth ruminations on the current human condition. This quote was particularly poignant:

If we can’t take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that — then what else are we missing?

Go and read the article. (The link’s up top.) Good, thought-provoking stuff. There’s some video too.

6 responses to “Pearls Before Breakfast”

  1. There is a great response to the Joshua Bell article by a NYC subway musician in her blog:
    She interprets the situation differently from the Washington Post reporters… I thought you might find it interesting.

  2. I checked out the link by Rachel. Cool to have a different interpretation on the event. I disagree with SawLady though.

    It seems to me that the point of the experiment was to see if Beauty alone would interrupt people’s morning commute to the degree that they’d stop and give their time, attention, and perhaps money to it. The need therefore to sell or market the Beauty by having a on-stage presence such as SawLady suggests a busker needs would be detrimental to what was at stake: whether people would even notice, be moved, etc, by the sheer musical brilliance / Beauty.

    In any case, quite interesting to chew on the potential implications of the experiment.

  3. Rachel: thanks for posting the link. While SawLady makes a valid point—that Bell is a fish out of water in busking—I agree with Tony that this is besides the point. The focus here was all about context in appreciation of beauty, and whether or not people would recognize the beauty of Bell’s playing amidst the bustle of the “rat race.” It’s all about juxtaposition and unusual circumstances giving rise to insights about life.

    In some ways, SawLady only seems to prove the article’s point. By saying that a busker’s music cannot stand by itself and succeed, she reveals that we need more than simple beauty to capture our attention. The art must move beyond art for art’s sake into the realm of entertainment. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it actually comments on the same reality: we’re too damn busy to stop and smell the roses.

    Anyways, thanks for the link Rachel. It’s great to see other perspectives on things.

  4. Wow. Thanks for posting on this and provoking our thoughts. This is a remarakably sad commentary of a culture caught up in the business of the superficial, over the real. I guess time, and how to live in it becomes one of the pressing issues.

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