‘pearls before breakfast’

The idea was simple: to find out if we really gave a shit about ‘beauty’ in our everyday lives. It wasn’t exactly news that we have become extremely busy, too busy to notice the thousand beautiful things around us – remember the haunting Koyaanisqatsi?

But there was some weight to the argument that seeking out beauty in daily life was difficult; you’d really have to strain to see the geometry of sky shaped by looming sky scrappers or appreciate the streetlights tinkle in the puddle, and then you ran the risk of being run over by the delivery truck. Simply put, it wasn’t fair to expect people to become all poet-like and sit and stare at a curious piece of broken pavement to see the prettiness in it.

So the Washington Post set out to see if we were at least open to perceiving beauty around us when given a chance to do so. And they were talking major league beauty:

What if one of the world’s finest violinist stood anonymously, playing some of the greatest Western classical music ever written (we’re talking Bach, Schubert) on a $3.5 million, 1713 Stradivarius violin just as you got off the train to go to work? Would you Stop and Hear the Music?

This was exactly what happened in 2007 in Washington and it is the subject of this Pulitzer Prize winning feature by Gene Weingarten titled Pearls Before Breakfast. It is a long read, but do spare the time. You won’t regret it.

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