Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Perception

I know it is not original to post forwarded stuff but this is by far one of the best I have ever read amongst all the forwards that I receive on a daily basis… strongly encourage you to read it…


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

4 minutes later……… The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

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

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 all the time. Several other children repeated this action. Every parent, without exception, forced his or her children to move on quickly.

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.

1 hour……… He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition…

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 theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

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

The questions raised:

In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

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?


Zewt:- Astonishingly brilliant and yet realistically sad, isn’t it?


1 year ago…
One that has gone extinct

2 years ago… Are you prepared?

3 years ago…
Chinese A… B… C…

26 comments:

rinnah said...

First to comment? Wow. What a privilege.


...lol

Planet of the Monyets said...

most of us live a life too fast-paced for our own good and in the process, miss out on many of the wonders around us.

BTW, I never appreciated donuts untill I had two in Jakarta just to kill time. Now I am hooked.... these little pleasures in life are worth living for...never mind the 3.5 million dollar violin.

eiling lim said...

wow that was inspiring. people prefer to pay $100 to listen at a concert hall than stopping at the pavements to spare a minute to listen to something free. After all, we humans were taught that there's no free lunch in the world! hahah

Anonymous said...

@rinnah: That's not a comment, that's a waste of cyberspace.

MKL said...

Zewt, the thing is, it was not a good environment to perform. People in the subways are busy, most likely they don't have a life like those, who are able to drive cars and live in the suburbs. I guess it's a problem of classes. On another note: I saw on German tv, a singer famous for songs with stupuid lyrics like "show me your boobs" was transformed into a poet and they made him read his songs as poems to intellectuals and most of them thought it was art. When they saw his live performances of the songs in some sleazy bars, where women dance topless and all men are drunk, most of them changed their opinion. So it's all about how you present something to the audience :)

Ninja Coffee said...

One person recognised him. It was a female. She watched him play until the end, even had the opportunity to exchange some words with him.
There was a video on it. She was the only one to stop and listen to the music until the end.

Anonymous said...

I was in New York in December 2009, and I also took the mettro subway. So, I can totally picture the scene in my head as I read your entry. New Yorkers are very fast-paced orang and they are quite ignorant and impatient as well. So, I am really not surprised no one stopped or notice about this violinist at all especially if it is in the rush hour.

-elizebeth dl

foongpc said...

Wow! That's Joshua Bell? My favourite violinist!! Watched him perform in KL before with MPO.

This is such an inspiring post! Love it lots!! It makes me think...yeah how many other things I am missing? It's a scary thought!

CiNDi said...

You should read the original post. But then again, it's because of this blog post that I went to search for the original post. Great share!

whoalse said...

We are all too bogged down with the hustles and bustles of life without even slowing down to soak in those wonderful things/happenings around us.

Weren't you in the same shoes back then, zewt? lol

thought I'd share this "Simplicity is Beauty" on here too
http://www.whoalse.com/Portfolio/Simplicity-is-Beauty/4015109_CHt9h#759355353_5fNNz

missironic said...

I'll stop and listen! I love listening to ppl playing the violin. Hahaha.. Ok la, if let's say im rushing, i'll slow down a little just to hear a few strings... :P

But yeah, performing in such a place, generally people wont think its someone sooooo talented and popular. They will tink it's someone who is out trying to make a few buck on the street. Sadly...

Mei Teng said...

We lived "hurried" lives.

doc said...

doesn't that just describe our lives in a nutshell? pay an-arm-and-a-leg (IMHO) at starbucks or coffee bean when you can get a nescafe 3-in-1 for a fraction?

yeah, i know, it's the ambience, free wifi, yadda yadda....

i can blatantly say this because i'm also guilty of this - about twice a year.

Swee Ping said...

It is something I noticed from time to time, like once or twice a year. Too busy chasing life in the rat race, to stop and look at simple nature things that has always been there. Sometime, when I actually realized about it, I will feel what have I become?

sinlady said...

positioning is everything to form perception. that's where marketing is so important. sad but true.

i wonder if i might have missed the whole thing too.

gracieq said...

A quote from Zombieland that gave me food for thought: "Enjoy the little things in life".

This post seems to resonate that particular message.

Amanda Christine Wong said...

It's the same with this situation: You go to a luxury bags store wearing just shorts and slippers, with no makeup and an untidy clipped up hair. the sales assistant won't even budge from examining her finger nails. She could've missed the chance of a fat commission had she knew that lady was a Datin. People SO judge a person by their appearance. they can't help it. and i'm not innocent too, i admit.

j_yenn said...

We sometimes don't realize what we've missed until it's too late. Kinda sad to think about this.

zewt said...

rinnah - :) it is!

planet of the monyets - i must say... donuts... really out of the blue :P

eiling lim - it's all about marketing isnt it?

anon @ 27/1 10.30pm - there are plenty.

MKL - like i said, it's all about marketing. and as the title suggest... perception. that's how stock market functions too.

Ninja Coffee - gonna search the video!

zewt said...

elizebeth dl - we KL folks are not that far behind.

foongpc - time to slow down... i have blogged about how time move too fast cause we made it that way.

CiNDi - found and read... really long though!

whoalse - hahaha... i guess i am still in that shoe.

missironic - i have seen some really rich ppl doing this while in paris long time ago... it's amazing.

Mei Teng - we choose to live that way.

zewt said...

doc - think that starbucks and nescafe analogy not very accurate here leh... :P

Swee Ping - it's good that you notice it. hence, we must take time to slow down.

sinlady - you have a chance to experience the states yourself!

gracieq - more accurately... every little things :)

Amanda Christine Wong - if we ever meet, i will go with slipper, shorts, singlet and messed up hair.

j_yenn - though there is a saying "it's never too late".... sometimes, it can really be too late.

Melisa said...

Zewt: Astonishingly brilliant and yet realistically sad, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. I saw the experiment on Youtube several months ago, and it must have been a nerve-racking experience for Joshua Bell.

If I were in that metro station and in a hurry to go to work, I would have stopped only for a moment. But if not, I would have stayed there for as long as my free time would allow. If you like to see the whole story, I think the article was based on Gene Weingarten's Pearls Before Breakfast (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html).

In our country I really stop by to listen... only if the street musicians are playing traditional music with traditional instruments. ^^ I think it's in the kind of music you like, your perception of auditory beauty would be based on that.

kyh said...

That's very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Time's really moving faster and faster. Sometimes I just wish that we have 72 hrs a day or let the clock stop ticking for a moment or two.

missironic said...

Yeah.. in Paris, at the train stations so many of these street performers. I even heard a mini orchestra there once. They were real good! Hahaha..

dy said...

hmm. it shows that people are more willing to pay hundreds of dollars for entertainment, but is not willing to received free entertainment... in chinese, they call it "farn jin". heh.

zewt said...

Melisa - i always stop to listen when i am overseas, particularly when it's really good. good musicians always intrigue me... :) thanks for the link, i manage to read it. so funny when he said he was so bothered by ppl's reaction. must have been quite an experience for him too.

kyh - it will never be enough. someone told me today that we should manage time and not let time manage us :P

missironic - oh paris... how i miss paris :P

dy - that's right... farn jin!!!!