I saw three things this week that a profound effect on me and they came from wildly different corners. The first was a Lewis C.K. Interview with Conan O'Brien last October. Lewis nails it – a biting slap at the very people in the audience applauding him and laughing along, the same sniveling blowhards that make up 90% of North American society these days (and the ones that have fucked everything up). In a weird twist of mass-delusion, most of these people entirely miss that Lewis's little observational rant it's ABOUT them. Post-modern comedy I suppose. Anyone with half a brain would sit there and shake their heads a the sheer depressing honesty of his commentary. NBC is pulling this from everywhere so watch it quickly. Lord knows they wouldn't want the truth getting out.
The second thing is a story someone emailed me ....
A Violinist in the Metro
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work. The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the child stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on. In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When 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 best 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 his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context? One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
Takes a minute to sink in doesn't it?
Which leads me to a final observation from this past week. Some bullshit magazine that gets stuffed into my Globe and Mail called "Corporate Knights" had their 3rd annual "Sustainable Cities Ranking". Things like this depress me utterly. They measured, among other things; Ecological Integrity, Economic Security, Governance and Empowerment, Infrastructure and Built Environment and Social Well-Being and of the large cities Edmonton ranked highest at 7.31 (out of 10, I gather) while Montreal sat dead last with a score of 5.96. I instantly thought about the Violin in the Metro story and in our endless mindfuck measuring fetish, how we miss the simple and obvious things. Anyone who has been in both Montreal and Edmonton, would never, ever, ever pick Edmonton as the place they'd want to stay. Montreal wins hands down. It's people like the authors of this detailed pile of statistical rubbish that need to called out and told to shut their fucking traps because they don't "know" anything. You can't measure society because it's a vibrant, ever-changing and dynamic thing, at least it's supposed to be. THAT is what makes it worthy and liveable, not some ridiculously subjective "empowerment" index. Ignore this crap because it makes us boring, dull and static people. Instead of moving to Edmonton to soak up some of their stellar 8.02 "Economic Security", make the place you live better by being interesting and doing something unexpected and if someone tries to measure your "Unusual Quotient" tell them to fuck off.
Hiding in lower Segredos with the cat,