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This is an email I got last night... i thought it was nice since it made me introspect....

THE SITUATION

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In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . ..

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Enjoy life NOW .. it has an expiration date!!!!!

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This is actually an excellent article. It is based on a feature written in the Washington post in 2007, that can be read here here. Mind you, its long, and it won a Pulitzer prize.

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That's amazing! and kind of scary at the same time to think about how blind we can be to our surroundings at times. The children notice but we just don't seem to have time to look around. or listen.

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i loved that the kids listened =) Guess we lose some knowledge over time huh?

Does get me frightened though. What've i missed? :blink:

Edited by gvg

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Context matters a lot. I'm English and live in Italy. I eat different food in Italy than what I used to eat in England, and drink different drinks. Things taste different depending on where you are. It isn't just climate, it's all the subtle smells and other cues you get from the environment. And also there's the difference in expectation. If I had seen Joshua Bell playing in that station and known it was him, I probably still wouldn't bother listening for long, especially if I had somewhere to go. Mind you, violin music doesn't do that much for me anyway, but if I had tickets to the theater show he did I'm sure I would have sat through it. Comfortable seats and a sense of occasion count for a lot. But that's not all, it's also the fact that you have set aside some time and some attention to that specific thing. That is the main difference, I think. We overload ourselves and while we are doing that we miss whatever beauty is there, not necessarily that we don't see it, we just don't have time for it. Information overload is also part of the problem. We don't want to listen or look because there is so much out there competing hard for our attention, 99% of which is junk. IMO advertising is a form of pollution. Unsolicited selling is a form of assault. It's pretty sad that we get to a point where we are shut off to what is going on around us.

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To add to what Octopuppy said, he was also playing in the Metro station. It's a place people use to get from one location to another. No one is there to enjoy the sights or listen to music. They are there to get some place else.

If he'd done it in a park, there would probably have been a lot more people stopping and listening. If you're walking in a park, chances are you aren't just "passing through," like you are almost guaranteed to be at the Metro.

People's timetables are particularly screwy regarding the metro since someone else controls the schedules for the trains and buses, so if you're making a transfer or something, you'll miss it if you stop for too long. So even if you really wanted to stop, if you're train's leaving in five minutes and you'll have to wait an hour for the next one to your stop, you'll probably forgo the pleasure of the violin to avoid the distaste of being late to wherever it is you're trying to reach.

Like octopuppy said, venue is everything.

As an aside, I second the thing about advertizing:

I find the vast majority of advertizing to be obnoxious at best and I'm clearly not a "typical customer" of the vast majority of the products being sold because I'm more often disgusted by the commercial than enthralled. I don't understand why so many American marketing firms seem to think that showing people acting stupidly is appealing to sell your product. Off the top of my head, Trident Layers has a particularly idiotic campaign about people excited to be "paid in gum." They just started a new round of it and I would never buy their products because it's so monumentally stupid (not that I ever chew gum anyway). /rant

* Interesting glitch in that if you don't give your spoiler a title (i.e. "spoiler=<title>"), then it screws up and double posts, once outside the spoiler and once inside it.

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Do you think he would have gotten any less listeners/money had he been a lower quality violinist? Probably not. A random person in the subway station most likely cannot tell the difference between this guy's talent level and someone else's. I know I can't.

Regardless of the person playing, I have learned to tune out people playing instruments or singing on the street. If the slightest bit of interest is shown, I could be guilted into giving them money, or maybe even having a conversation, which is not desirable since most of them are crazy and smelly. Maybe I am cheap, or heartless, but I feel like most people walking blindly by are thinking the same thing.

And octopuppy/dawh, it sounds like you need to upgrade to DVR.

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And octopuppy/dawh, it sounds like you need to upgrade to DVR.

Well, I mentioned TV ads in my post, but advertizing is far more pernicious and inundating than just television. Billboards, posters at malls and other media. Advertizing in magazines and newspapers and ever more so online. Brainden doesn't have paid advertizing on the site (thankfully), but most popular hubs on the Internet are paid by advertizing slots. Some browsers have plugins that block ads from displaying, but most people don't use that functionality when it's available and it isn't always available immediately after you upgrade to the latest version. And of course, there's copious amounts of product placement in movies and even in video games more and more often. We're an advertizing-consuming culture, even when we don't notice. :(

Referring back to the OP, there is an aspect of the "Phantom Tollbooth's" Illusions versus Reality, especially in this quote from the article:

It was all videotaped by a hidden camera. You can play the recording once or 15 times, and it never gets any easier to watch. Try speeding it up, and it becomes one of those herky-jerky World War I-era silent newsreels. The people scurry by in comical little hops and starts, cups of coffee in their hands, cellphones at their ears, ID tags slapping at their bellies, a grim danse macabre to indifference, inertia and the dingy, gray rush of modernity.

Even at this accelerated pace, though, the fiddler's movements remain fluid and graceful; he seems so apart from his audience -- unseen, unheard, otherworldly -- that you find yourself thinking that he's not really there. A ghost.

Only then do you see it: He is the one who is real. They are the ghosts.

He's part of Illusions, the place that is wondrous, but no one sees, while they all trundle by in Reality, oblivious to the world around them... :mellow:

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I went and read the article. That's actually kinda depressing. I think it's amazing, though, that the kids stopped and listened, and they have no idea who Joshua Bell is or anything, and the parents just pushed them along. Echoing gvg above, what else do we forget over time besides our perception of beauty? It's a twisted world when going through life means losing our grip on the things that matter.

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I was walking around town today and saw some guy across the street playing the violin (more like faking it to a recording but playing a bit anyway). I doubt he was famous but quite a few people gathered around to watch him/ listen. As mentioned earlier, the results probably would have been different if it hadn't been in the subway where everyone has a quickly approaching deadline.

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Echoing gvg above, what else do we forget over time besides our perception of beauty?
Speaking for myself, I honestly tend to forget all the important stuff if I'm not careful. Like if you think back over anything you did over the last 3 years that makes you think "Wow, I'm so glad I did that. That was a day well spent.". All that stuff.

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Speaking for myself, I honestly tend to forget all the important stuff if I'm not careful. Like if you think back over anything you did over the last 3 years that makes you think "Wow, I'm so glad I did that. That was a day well spent.". All that stuff.

That's exactly what I'm talking about. We always remember the meaningless things, like what we had for dinner last night, or how much our siblings annoy us. But we tend to forget the important things, like making time to spend with friends and family or something.

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It's fall, my favorite time of year - and I live in NorCal where the visual evidence of fall (mainly the tree leaves' color change) lasts maybe 2 weeks. I was halfway to work today before I noticed that the visual change was finally happening around here - a 30 min drive past quite a few different types of trees. Normally I look at the scenery, see what's being harvested, what's in bloom, where an idiot threw a lit cigarette into the median & caused a fire, etc., but today I was preoccupied with work before I even got there.

Fall is short around here. No more work-think on the drive while it's light out & there's stuff to see.

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