I have gone through my life with an extreme appreciation for the arts. I was brought up in a family that shared a love of both the arts and self expression. My oldest sister played the flute, and my next sister played the clarinet. My father, all three of my brothers, and my third sister all played the trumpet. I too, in fifth grade learned to play the trumpet. At first it was a chore: the long hours of practicing, the constant sore mouth, the unsuccessful attempt that unreachable note. After a few years, I actually became quite good, and the chore became a hobby. The trumpet was something that brought my family close together. It allowed us to connect in a way that only a real appreciation for music can do. The crescendo, the fermata, the strict staccato note that was hit with perfect accuracy allowed me to feel a bond with my instrument, and with whom I was playing. In high school, I began to take my vocal ability and transform it into a performance. I was cast in a lead role two consecutive years in high school, and by senior year I was selected as the drum major for my nationally ranked group 1 marching band. Music was my saving grace in high school. It gave me the ability to express most anything I felt, without even needing to use words. Can you think of something else that gives you such adrenaline? However, much to my dismay, there were many kids in my own school, that never saw the musical, never listened to the band, and did not even take interest in singing in the shower. Gene Weingarten makes mention of a British author, John Lane, who once noted the loss of appreciation for beauty, “not because people didn’t notice it, but because it was irrelevant to them.” What is a hobby but something that someone takes interest in. When I find a hobby, I look for something that gives flight to my emotions, and frees whatever it is that is weighing down my soul. During my recent break-up, I found myself turning to music as a comfort, though this is not everyone’s solution. It gave my my own personal space, because no two people have the same experience even if they hear or see the same thing. I was alone in my own connection to the arts, however, accompanied by so many like me.
Jaron Lanier says that, “The difference between sanity and fanaticism is found in how well the believer can avoid confusing consequential differences in timing.” He then goes on to discuss the different actions people may take based on their different beliefs; Rapture versus Singularity. Perhaps this parallels with what different people may prioritize in. For some people its art or music, while others it may be sports. Some people may be so caught up in their busy lives that they can not seem to make much time outside of their work life, but as Gene Weingarten mentions: What is beauty? Is it a measurable fact? Is it an opinion? Is it both? Well I personally do not believe it to be measurable, not entirely. It is definitely opinion. What causes someone to find beauty can be based on many things, but it has to appeal to them. People find commonalities in similar movie interests, or music interests, and it has the potential to bring us all under one umbrella and in the same boat. As Turkle says, “Today’s heightened consciousness of incompleteness may predispose us to join with other.” In other words, people want to find commonalties!
I am a huge Les Miserables fan. I have seen the show on stage countless times, performed the songs in choir, and on my own. What I found truly both exciting and fascinating is the fact that technology was able to take this show, and turn it into a movie. Rather than be forced to scope out a live performance, you can watch this musical in the comfort of your own home. You’re not limited by seat availability or a time crunch. Americans are very busy. Take the experiment with Joshua Bell. The biggest finding was not that people did not notice him, at least not the ones with a musical appreciation. It was that they did not have more then four or five minutes to stop and listen. That is the society that we unfortunately live in, but take his artistry and add convenience… (yes, theres that word again!), and you will find that people are able to appreciate him more. Just like the musical Les Miserables, in the comforts of their own home, where they can press stop or play as necessary, they are more likely to take the time to appreciate the production and all its value. Lanier asks how has technology changed people? It has made us seek convenience. That is no different when it comes to things we do and do not make time to appreciate.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
— from “Leisure,” by W.H. Davies