Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Virtuoso Plays Stradivarius On Subway Gets Little Attention

OK, so this is a bit off-topic ... if I ever really had an on-topic. What's worse, this story is getting thousands of diggs, so it violates my rule of never posting about something that you can read about elsewhere.

It's still a great story. Please read Pearls Before Breakfast.

First of all, it's great to read an in-depth article in a newspaper that's not about politics or war.

Second of all, I think it would be obvious that only one of two things would happen: a) he is recognized by someone who uses technology to bring a mob (unlikely), or b) the context and acoustics, combined with the frenetic time-constraints that people have, would result in him being virtually ignored.

Not much of a surprise that b) happened. Classical music is not overly known, and violin less so; the article called the music "beauty" as if it were obvious, when surely this is in the ears of the beholder, so to speak.

Nor is it much of a surprise that people are used to running through the passages that get us from here to there while trying not to be distracted. We have lists to remember, we live in fear of attracting too much attention if we stop near strangers, and our brains are good at tuning out the unusual.

It is the latter that is our most telling damnation as humans. We don't see things because we don't want to see things. Challenges represent danger, Familiarity represents safety.

Don't buy this new game, because we already know what the old game will be like. Don't listen to this new music, because we already know what the old music will be like.

It seems to me that the day we invented something that could capture sound is the day that we stopped hearing. Sure, many more people could hear a particular thing; but many of those people played that thing over and over, at the expense of hearing the next new thing.

The same, perhaps, can be said of reading versus storytelling, and any other media device that lets us replay what we've already experienced. Maybe its best that we not repeatedly experience the same things too often.


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