Do We No Longer Care About Beauty?

This is old news and has nothing to do with technology, startups or venture capital, but I just happened upon a Washington Post piece about a fascinating social experiment–violin virtuoso Joshua Bell playing for tips in a DC Metro station.

Only one person recognizes him because she saw him perform three weeks earlier at the Library of Congress. Net of that person’s $20, Joshua makes $12 for nearly an hour of playing some of the best violin music on Earth.

It’s an elegantly written piece with a good bit of philosophy and reflection on the speed of modern day life. The video of people ignoring the music is surreal.

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.

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2 Responses to Do We No Longer Care About Beauty?

  1. jeremyliew says:

    I have a different takeaway -people can recognize beauty, but they need context for their decision making mechanisms to work best (e.g. “beautiful music occurs in concert halls – this is not a concert hall, therefore I don’t need to be on the lookout for beautiful music”.

    More on my thoughts on this article and the importance of context at the Lightspeed blog:

  2. JoeDuck says:

    Fascinating, though my conclusion would be that people can recognize the beautiful music but prefer aptly named pop music, and they reward preferences not beauty… I’d guess his tips would have been bigger – perhaps hugely – if he’d played “turkey in the straw” and put on a farmer hat.

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