Sunday, April 15, 2007

Stand And Stare

A few days ago, I was in an art gallery thinking that some of the works selling for $200 and over were worth that much only for their framing. But for it, the work might be considered very ordinary- definitely not something one would pay to buy. What does not having a frame of reference to do a masterpiece is definitely worth pondering and Washington Post experimented recently to find out. They had the violinist Joshua Bell play incognito at L'enfant Plaza in DC during morning rush hour to see if he would draw a crowd.

As it turns out only children have true knowledge of great music, they stop and listen to it :

The poet 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.

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.

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