A Fascinating Experiment.

Hey,

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Another dark and sombre day today, with thick grey clouds glowering overhead.

Sometimes this kind of weather feels positively biblical, like those days when the clouds are suddenly pierced by a shaft of light that reaches down to the earth in just one clear beam.

There is such beauty in all the various moods of the skies and we respond to them so strongly.

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For me, every good mood is well enhanced by a bright blue sky and I expect that you are no different in your response to it

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What I am wondering though, is how much beauty do we fail to recognise.

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How many times do we totally miss seeing the truly sublime!

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Do we get so immersed in the routine of the everyday that we become blind.

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Also, in what way are we used to receiving and perceiving true beauty.

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Is beauty something that we only appreciate when we are primed to see it.

For instance, when we visit an art gallery, we are expecting to see art.

At an opera we are primed to appreciate fine singing.

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In such circumstances we are given permission to see the beauty that we are told is there….by the critics….and by the reputations we are informed of.

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If people do not enjoy what they see or hear, then they are told that they must learn to enjoy the finer things in life and understand the beauty of it, until  they re-educate their tastes.

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There was a wonderful test of this which was carried out by The Washington Post in 2007.

The results were informative….and very interesting.

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They wished to see what would happen if regular commuters were given the opportunity to meet beauty on the Metro system on their daily travel.

Unexpected and unannounced.

How many would actually recognise it when they have not already been expecting to see it.

Would it be ‘Pearls Before Swine’, as the old saying goes?

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They then approached one of the most famous violinists in the whole world.

This is a man called Joshua Bell, who can command fees of £1,000 per minute.

A genius who plays with wonderful emotion and moves audiences with his amazing talent.

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You may think that such a star would reject such an idea but Joshua Bell is an unusual man and was also interested in what would result from such a test of the powers of his music when no-one was expecting it.

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On the appointed day, Friday 12th January 2007, the test began.

Joshua went into a metro station entrance and began to play.

Popular tunes that people might easily recognise were not chosen for this.

The choice was to play true masterpieces that have endured through time.

He was not prepared to play upon an inferior instrument so he used his own Stradivarius  (3.5 million)  violin in order to give of his usual best.

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There were Washington Post employees stationed at the exits etc. in order to ask the commuters questions about their experience that morning.

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Joshua began to play his first piece.

There he stood, a master of the instrument, giving his all.  Creating instant beauty in the most unexpected of places, at the most unexpected of time of  7.51 am in the morning.
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What happened?

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In the 45 minutes that the man played….hardly anybody noticed him at all.

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There were cameras set up around the spot and everything was on the film viewed later.

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One man rushed by and then stopped and went back.

He is seen looking at his watch as he stands by a wall near Joshua. He remains for small time and then leaves, with obvious reluctance.

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An employee sweeping floors nearby is obviously attracted to the music and keeps drifting to the very edge of his area and leans on his broom to listen for a moment before continuing sweeping again.

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People can also be seen throwing money as they race past the ‘busker.’

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The only people who really can be seen responding to the music are the children who are taken past the musician by their adult carers,

They look at Joshua and try to stop and listen, but although they get to slow their steps a bit, they are pulled on by adults who do not notice what has attracted the attention of their small charges.

This would seem to show that young children are born able to relate to beauty easily, but the press of life causes us to become dulled in our response

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One woman did stop shortly before the end and stood in a prominent position directly in front of Joshua, beaming widely, until he was finished playing.

She then told him that she had recognised him, having seen him in concert recently….so that did not actually count!

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The amount of money he earned in his 45 minutes was a sum of $35.17.

People had actually been throwing a lot pennies at him as they passed, in the same way that they throw small change at all buskers and beggars.

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When commuters were questioned about their journey that morning there were very few who had any memory of the music….most had not even noticed it at all.

People who had been filmed standing in line a few feet away, waiting to buy lottery tickets, had not even been aware of him.

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It truly makes you think doesn’t it!

Are we all so busy that we have no time to stand and stare at wonder when we meet it head on!

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True beauty went mostly unnoticed and unappreciated when met unexpectedly.

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Sad Indeed.

Have a great day and remember to keep your eyes and ears open!

Jx

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