Looking or Seeing? Hearing or Listening?

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Speculum
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Looking or Seeing? Hearing or Listening?

Postby Speculum » July 31st, 2009, 8:36 pm

A friend sent this to me today. I searched it on the internet, and found it repeated in blogs and the like all over. I don't know whether it is a true story or an urban myth, but either way, it's good; and it sure says something about us humans.

Washington, DC Metro Station on 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 Open Forumplaying. 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 later: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes later: 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. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes later: 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 later: 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 theater 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 newspaper as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common-place 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?
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

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anvil46
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Re: Looking or Seeing? Hearing or Listening?

Postby anvil46 » August 24th, 2009, 2:01 am

when we read this story r we saying to ourselves 'I would have noticed , I would have listened , I would have appreciated the beauty' . If we r saying this r we lying to ourselves?????
may we notice the next beautiful event in our lives.
love
anvil46

Georg
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Re: Looking or Seeing? Hearing or Listening?

Postby Georg » August 24th, 2009, 10:14 pm

Some thoughts after having listened to a russian balalaika street musician quartet interpreting Mozart in Salzburg (his birthplace city):

Beauty is not measurable and not objective.
Whether the play "of one of the best musicians in the world playing pieces of one of the best componists on one of the best instruments"
should sound beautiful to somebody or not, nobody can know.

Vice versa, beauty emerges out of any circumstances and without any reason.
It comes out unintended when composing.
The listener can recognize it even out of an imperfect play (the more out of a good one, of course).
But music does not exist without a listener.

The recognition of beauty seems to be some kind of a resonance effect
(which distinguishes looking from seeing, hearing from listening).
This is something very individual, even through several persons like "composer - musician - listener".

Beauty is like "I am resonating with the world".
But any true perception has the same structure!

Imaginary dialog as the child sees a sparrow for the first time:
"Look at this small feathery something in the tree, what is it ?" -
"It's a sparrow." -
"How beautiful !".
But next time it's just "A sparrow? I know sparrows, they're boring".

Therefore, regarding the final question "how many other things are we missing?" -
most of them, because we "know" them.
"Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses" (Boethius)

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W4TVQ
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Re: Looking or Seeing? Hearing or Listening?

Postby W4TVQ » August 25th, 2009, 12:10 pm

I wonder if the reason we fail to see beauty so many times is that it is part of an alternate universe with which we have only partial contact -- which we have variously identified in more lucid moments as "the spiritual realm" or "heaven" or "the Kingdom of God." I tend to agree with A Course In Miracles that we "make a hell and think it real." Then we from time to time peek through the veil into reality (that which we did not make, and therefore is real), that from time to time we "see," but do not recognize that that is what is happening and so try to explain it as part of the reality we have made instead.

That would explain to me why, for example, I can listen to Mahler's 2nd Symphony and, at the end of it, think "well, in that case, all is well." For others the same effect might come from staring at a Van Gogh or simply sitting by a cold mountain stream or a quiet surf and drifting off int that other place for a few moments. He says of Mahler's 2nd or of the mountain stream, "This is my body. If you see into it, you will see me."

Kinda hard to express this sort of thing with language which we have made!

Ubuntu
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

Georg
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Re: Looking or Seeing? Hearing or Listening?

Postby Georg » September 1st, 2009, 7:15 pm

and so try to explain it as part of the reality we have made instead


Totally agree. The "reality we have made" is a reality of explanations and "knowing". It is very limited - that's the "hell" part about it.
"Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses" (Boethius)

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Speculum
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Re: Looking or Seeing? Hearing or Listening?

Postby Speculum » September 3rd, 2009, 6:22 pm

As I see it, the purpose of "the reality we have made" is to reflect our sense of being "me". That is, our reality is ourselves perceived "outerly". The inner and the outer are one and the same. So, we are perceiving ourselves, or what we consider ourselves to be.

As for what we see and what we miss. I suppose we see the things (people, animals, landscapes, events, ideas, phenomena, etc.) which reinforce our sense of being "me, not you", and we ignore or see past whatever does not serve that fundamental egoic survival necessity.

So, if we were in the Washington DC Metro station that day, and noticed a crowd formed around a musician, and observed that everyone was making a fuss, oohing and ahhing, we would probably stop, and ooh and ahhh, too, because our egoic self would not want to feel we didn't get the beauty of the event that everyone else was getting. Stay with the tide. On the other hand, if no one was paying any attention to the musician, which was apparently the case, probably neither would we, because there is no egoic profit in being "different'. The ego's survival instinct tells us not to drift too far from the herd.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust


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