pearls before swine

this is taken from the Washington Post

Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out.

April 8, 2007

note to self – must check the rules about posting from online sources

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.

IF A GREAT MUSICIAN PLAYS GREAT MUSIC BUT NO ONE HEARS . . . WAS HE REALLY ANY GOOD?

It’s an old epistemological debate, older, actually, than the koan about the tree in the forest. Plato weighed in on it, and philosophers for two millennia afterward: What is beauty? Is it a measurable fact (Gottfried Leibniz), or merely an opinion (David Hume), or is it a little of each, colored by the immediate state of mind of the observer (Immanuel Kant)?

“When you play for ticket-holders,” Bell explains, “you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I’m already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don’t like me? What if they resent my presence . . .”

He was, in short, art without a frame. Which, it turns out, may have a lot to do with what happened — or, more precisely, what didn’t happen — on January 12.

MARK LEITHAUSER HAS HELD IN HIS HANDS MORE GREAT WORKS OF ART THAN ANY KING OR POPE OR MEDICI EVER DID. A senior curator at the National Gallery, he oversees the framing of the paintings. Leithauser thinks he has some idea of what happened at that Metro station.

“Let’s say I took one of our more abstract masterpieces, say an Ellsworth Kelly, and removed it from its frame, marched it down the 52 steps that people walk up to get to the National Gallery, past the giant columns, and brought it into a restaurant. It’s a $5 million painting. And it’s one of those restaurants where there are pieces of original art for sale, by some industrious kids from the Corcoran School, and I hang that Kelly on the wall with a price tag of $150. No one is going to notice it. An art curator might look up and say: ‘Hey, that looks a little like an Ellsworth Kelly. Please pass the salt.’”

Leithauser’s point is that we shouldn’t be too ready to label the Metro passersby unsophisticated boobs. Context matters.

Kant said the same thing. He took beauty seriously: In his Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, Kant argued that one’s ability to appreciate beauty is related to one’s ability to make moral judgments. But there was a caveat. Paul Guyer of the University of Pennsylvania, one of America’s most prominent Kantian scholars, says the 18th-century German philosopher felt that to properly appreciate beauty, the viewing conditions must be optimal.

Souza was surprised to learn he was a famous musician, but not that people rushed blindly by him. That, she said, was predictable. “If something like this happened in Brazil, everyone would stand around to see. Not here.”

Souza nods sourly toward a spot near the top of the escalator: “Couple of years ago, a homeless guy died right there. He just lay down there and died. The police came, an ambulance came, and no one even stopped to see or slowed down to look.

(Pat animals gather round one of them who is injured/dying – and so do we in the  circumstances of a hospital bed/ a close relative  – think about the importance of framing  – what exactly is framing?  maybe a structuralist description of framing could be made?)

……………………………………………………..

Let’s say Kant is right. Let’s accept that we can’t look at what happened on January 12 and make any judgment whatever about people’s sophistication or their ability to appreciate beauty. But what about their ability to appreciate life?

In his 2003 book, Timeless Beauty: In the Arts and Everyday Life, British author John Lane writes about the loss of the appreciation for beauty in the modern world. The experiment at L’Enfant Plaza may be symptomatic of that, he said — not because people didn’t have the capacity to understand beauty, but because it was irrelevant to them.

“This is about having the wrong priorities,” Lane said.

If we can’t take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that — then what else are we missing?

(Pat compare a dream where we don’t have the option of ignoring the story/images in our mind but are rendered powerless to move)

……………..

“This was a superb violinist. I’ve never heard anyone of that caliber. He was technically proficient, with very good phrasing. He had a good fiddle, too, with a big, lush sound. I walked a distance away, to hear him. I didn’t want to be intrusive on his space.”

Really?

“Really. It was that kind of experience. It was a treat, just a brilliant, incredible way to start the day.”

Picarello knows classical music. He is a fan of Joshua Bell but didn’t recognize him; he hadn’t seen a recent photo, and besides, for most of the time Picarello was pretty far away. But he knew this was not a run-of-the-mill guy out there, performing. On the video, you can see Picarello look around him now and then, almost bewildered.

“Yeah, other people just were not getting it. It just wasn’t registering. That was baffling to me.”

(Pat – this has somethin to do with Kant – this man was aware of other people experiencing the music, was aware of their assessment of it, was puzzled by their assessment of it – has this something to do with relational aesthetics?  possible art app is a communal experience????  Is it t do with our awareness of the artist’s intention -here they thought he was plaing for coppers – in the concert hall they know he is playing to present a musical experience  – has this something to do with  ‘theory of mind’  note to self that it is probably very important to follow my own explorations and intimations that something is important and not to be diverted by other people’s assessment of the worth of ideas that occur even when that person is pleasant/to be admired/ in a ‘gateway’ position.  there is probably something necessary about the imperative to think  cf my earlier discussion of framing and whether the imperative to think is to think without framing which is what happened when Jill dissed my thinking.  Maybe art itself is down to a framing of the free thinking ie a second reworking of the original thinking which hones it and makes it accessible and imperative to others)

I have lost my thread here and will discuss this in a later post.  Here I note that while reading through the above the notion of ‘the infinite proliferation of language connotations’ vame to  my mind as relevant and was one of those paths which beckoned me to go down as I did not understand it/had not been able to concetize in words the hazy intimations to my mind that there was something to discover.  So I researched the infinite proliferation of language connotations on google and seemed to narrow it down to Barthes and I think it is to do with a writerly text.

I get lost in my own maze – but the maze has important value.  I love Barthes and will gush over him – and do not love inflated ‘art egos’

Writerly text

A text that aspires to the proper goal of literature and criticism: “… to make the reader no longer a consumer but a producer of the text” (4). Writerly texts and ways of reading constitute, in short, an active rather than passive way of interacting with a culture and its texts. A culture and its texts, Barthes writes, should never be accepted in their given forms and traditions. As opposed to the “readerly texts” as “product,” the “writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world is traversed, intersected, stopped, plasticized by some singular system (Ideology, Genus, Criticism) which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages” (5). Thus reading becomes for Barthes “not a parasitical act, the reactive complement of a writing,” but rather a “form of work” (10)

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