JOSHUA’S FIDDLE….Have you read Gene Weingarten’s cover story in this week’s Washington Post magazine? Basically, he took a world-class violinist (Joshua Bell) and had him play for about an hour at the entrance to a DC Metro stop to see if anyone would notice. To a good approximation, no one did. The tone of the story is a sort of artificially mournful tsk-tsking over our inability to recognize beauty in the world around us, take time out to smell the roses, etc. etc.
I’m sorry, but this is just idiotic. No one recognized Bell because even famous violinists don’t have famous faces. No one cared much about his music because probably no more than five people out of a hundred enjoy classical music at all — and fewer still recognize the difficult pieces he decided to play. What’s more, I’d be surprised if as many as one out of a hundred can tell a good violinist from a great one even in good conditions. And despite the claim that the acoustics of the L’Enfant Plaza station were “surprisingly kind,” I’m sure they were nothing of the sort.
Plus, of course, IT WAS A METRO STATION. People needed to get to work on time so their bosses wouldn’t yell at them. Weingarten mentions this, with appropriately high-toned references to Kant and Hume, but somehow seems to think that, in the end, this really shouldn’t matter much. There should have been throngs of culture lovers surrounding Bell anyway. It’s as if he normally lives on Mars and dropped by Earth for a few minutes to do some research for a sixth-grade anthropology project.
Sorry for the rant, but something about this article was so willfully clueless and hectoring (though in a sad, gentle way, natch) that it set my teeth on edge. Sure, I’m a philistine, but did anybody else have the same reaction?