Friday, April 13, 2007

"Pearls Before Breakfast" - G. Weingarten, W. Post

Joshua Bell said something about playing the violin like a juggler – being a storyteller, capturing the emotion in the narrative. The mechanics are so familiar, the emotion is everything. G. Weingarten wrote a W. Post piece “Pearls Before Breakfast” (4/8) about an experiment at the L’Enfant Plaza metro in D.C. in which Joshua Bell, virtuoso violinist, played his 17th century Stradivarius for 45 minutes during morning rush hour.

Familiarity sparks response – a lilt, a rush, a lift of a note that sings, from tight strings, or a glance, a brush against an arm covered by old wool as it reaches forward, the flasth of reflected colors like a revered watercolor, “art without a frame.” Context matters, Mark Leithauser said. Leithauser is a senior curator at the National Gallery, overseeing the framing of the paintings.

A key observation in the article is “Every single time a child walked pat, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

People engrossed in their lives of the moment, focused on sounds from elsewhere, or inside, thoughts that only coincide with the careening edges and shine, the rush of the morning push, transition, not enjoyment.

This coincides in my mind with what we were thinking further south on the same date as Weingarten’s article came out: “Hidden memories” as the chemical energy in the neurons of our brain, what we carry forth as we form ourselves from attractions, bonds, intertwining, dirt, seat, and tears. Like Kriesler’s violin, so pure in sounds and true to form, through centuries of love and reverence, we must open ourselves to the beauty of life itself as our form, not just the exalted idea or the clamoring of hungry, hands, eyes, mouths.

Call me crazy, but I’ve wanted to kiss granite, touch the polished smooth faces to acknowledge every step of the way. Familiarity breeds response – let it be known. Familiar implies known, not completely new, even comfortable, although these sensations do not always coincide.

What excited me about familiarity? Something out of the ordinary. I think when I began to feel depressed was when the spark of familiarity, the newness of surprise, like an old friend, passed on without a deeper recognition that there was a virtuoso violinist present. Or that what I thought was virtuoso, wasn’t. When you know something, it’s crystal clear.

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