Scenario: Joshua Bell, one of the world's top musicians, playing Bach, on a Stradivarius violin worth $3.5 million dollars, busking in a subway station, two days after he had sold out a Boston theater with $100 seat prices.
Would you have stopped? Tarried for a few minutes? Thrown a dollar in his violin case?
Few of the 1,000+ people who passed through the station, while Joshua played for 45 minutes, took much notice in this Washington Post experiment. A handful threw down a few coins. Hardly any actually stopped to listen.
What does this tell us? Are we conditioned to recognize art only in conventional packages and settings? Are we closed to the beauty that surrounds us? Do our iPods and cell phones isolate us from our environment? Or are we just in a hurry?