Saturday, April 14, 2007

Does Beauty Transcend ?

I really wanted to post on this earlier in the week but I've been unplugged for the past 3 days.

Washington Post conducted a fascinating social experiment - it's a long article but worth reading. They commissioned Joshua Bell, a renown violinist to play some of the finest classical music ever composed on a Stradivarius, right in the middle of a Washington DC metro train station...during rush hour.

The idea was to find out if the essence of beauty is self evident, and whether it would transcend the busyness of the rush hour commute. Would people be so moved by the music, so as to pause the hustle and bustle of the morning, to recognize or perhaps even appreciate its evident beauty?

Well, the results aren't pretty. As Joshua Bell played for 43 minutes, a total of 1,097 people passed by. Only seven stopped to listen. Here's the excerpt from the article that really got my attention -

The people scurry by in comical little hops and starts, cups of coffee in their hands, cellphones at their ears, ID tags slapping at their bellies, a grim danse macabre to indifference, inertia and the dingy, gray rush of modernity.

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.

Knowing myself, I probably wouldn't have been found among the seven but it did give me pause to think -

Is real beauty self evident and self authenticating?
Why can't we recognize it?
What does that say about us?
What is real beauty?

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4


HALFMOM said...

Oh, I would have stopped and listened and perhaps even felt tears well up in my eyes - and then I would have really had tears well up as I rushed away, late for another appointment because frequently, my days are too full to be still and listen.

Every Square Inch said...


LOL. My poetic musing just got a reality check! ;-)

OK, fair enough, but I wonder if we are missing something when our lives are too full to be still and listen or observe beauty.

Perhaps you could weigh in on this question - what is real beauty?

Meng said...

Its a sad tragedy of our lifes. With better and instantaneous forms of communication; we become more busy and less time for.....(face to face)communication and appreciation of God's creation.

"On real beauty" -Any truth to "Beauty in the eyes of the beholder?" Some of the commuters may not even have known what a violin sounds like...:>
Generally however most would find beauty in a beautiful sunset or the Grand Canyon....

L.L. Barkat said...

Oh, Every Square, I just copied this very verse today into my journal... the part about gazing on the beauty of the Lord. It was while I was sitting out under the pine, in the light rain that followed the floods.

Part of seeing beauty is showing up for it, I think. And I guess that's what I'm trying to do.

Every Square Inch said...

Meng, is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? If there's absolute truth, isn't there absolute beauty?

LL, "Part of seeing beauty is showing up for it" - what practical advice! You can't win if you don't play. Or at least that's what the Virginia lottery ads say.

NOT ASHAMED! said...

Beauty is whatever, however, whenever, that reflects the reality of God's character as revealed in Jesus Christ - oh that we could all have eyes to see what is really there and we are blinded to.