Chance missed.

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Is it art if there is no spotlight?

The Washington Post elaborates.

Do I cry more for the “audience” or the rest of humanity?

I doubt I could have written better, but I wish the author had ended before drawing his conclusions for us. While it seems a shame to miss out on “stopping to smell the flowers,” if the “audience” in the underground was hurrying along to create or produce something of private and personal meaning no matter how amateurish or dilettantish it might seem excusable. For me the tragedy is that most are going about the motions of attending meetings, completing reports or turning the cogs of civilisation that nobody really cares about.

File under forgotten.

Playing yesterday’s “You only have one chance” game was unsatisfactory but unsurprising. I am well aware that whatever we choose, independence or marriage, career or family, ambition or serenity, we pay a price. The most regrettable choice would be to remain passive and fail to choose and to have neither. In the game the scientist had to choose between “producing” results in the lab or “consuming” leisure with his daughter in the park. To me neither choice was better or worse, but was either better than staying in bed or closing the eyes to jump into the abyss before it inevitably called? From the perspective of eternity neither matters … but who lives from the perspective of eternity?

After playing the little game yesterday, seeing this contribution this morning for the first time was especially fitting. I have plenty of regrets about life, mostly missed opportunities and wasted potential. Maybe this gives me something to open my eyes again and some perspective to rouse me out of my stupor. I may have missed plenty of chances in the past, but there are plenty more now that I will certainly miss if I don’t get out of bed again today.

All I have to do is tailor some new threads … you know, for the emperor. Anybody have some tips how to get my new fashion noticed and taken up by the famous and fashionable? Maybe it’s ok if I just forget the emperor and just wear them myself.

A concert for one. 

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  1. You Only Have One Chance

7 Responses to Chance missed.

  1. Pastabagel says:

    I think the point of the game is to force you to not think about it in terms of producing or consuming. The point of the game is that no matter what you do, everybody dies. Because guess what, in real life, everybody dies. The point is that going to work, who is that for? That’s for you, and for the boss. But in the reality of the game your wife and daughter still exist. So you are choosing not to be with them.

    Some philosophies are based on the idea that the calculus you describe is inherently flawed, i.e. instead of figuring out how to live best for yourself, figure out how to live best for everyone else.

  2. Pastabagel says:

    Also, I remember that Josh Bell story when it happened. The whole premise is flawed. Were the commuters supposed to be awed into immobility by the music of Bach? Why, because it’s inherently beautiful and moving? Nonsense. Bach is in a language that requires it’s own context. If you heard a Basho haiku in Japanese, but you didn’t speak Japanese, your failure to respond to it says nothing about either Basho, haiku, or you.

    Most people, and by most I mean literally almost everyone, don’t know how to listen to classical music. They don’t know what makes Bach different from Bohm or other organists.

    Frankly, the article says more about the state of classical music today then about our existential or postmodern condition. Classical music performance is mired in a ghetto that few even acknowledge. Everyone is trying to outdo everyone else in the performance of works whose composers were often quite specific about how they should be performed.

    Maybe the people in the subway were tuning Bell out, to listen to the music in their heads that only they can hear.

  3. cat says:

    Many of the commuters were probably listening to the “soundtrack of their lives” on their iPods and so didn’t hear the violinist; in any case, they didn’t show up to the subway to listen to a classical music concert, they showed up to catch a train to work. They weren’t expecting Bach. So they didn’t hear it.

    And if buskers are commonplace in DC, why would they imagine this one to be any different from the others – just someone there to provide a snatch of music as you dash past and maybe chuck a few pennies into his open violin case. Buskers are beggars with guitars or violins, and beggars are almost invisible.

  4. stucky says:

    How many of the people who walked by just didn’t like violin and/or classical music? How many of the audience from the sold out show were in DC’s subway for this experiment? I’m going to venture that the response to both approaches zero.

    Classical music is like jazz for me; that’s neat that you can do that. Excuse me while I switch over to something I actually enjoy.

    • JohnJ says:

      That’s a good point. This is written with the conclusion that we’re supposed to reach already in mind. Art used to be the sole domain of the rich. Now we’re all (in America) rich. But beauty is still in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. And it still depends on the circumstances.

  5. Res_Ipsa_Loquitur says:

    When I am in the subway, I am usually in a rush to get my train, eat breadsticks, enraged, or all of the above. It’s not that I dont appreciate a golden thread of beauty woven into the otherwise shit brown tapestry of life, it’s just that I’m busy, and the subway is for commuting, basically. Joshua Bell is a talented musician to be sure, and violin music anywhere is nice. But when I feel the need to hear classical music, I buy a ticket to see a concert at one of my city’s performance art venues.

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