from Thursday, April10th of the year2008.
I adore David Lang. I am so, so, glad that he won the Pulitzer! Listen to his piece here (also good job to Carnegie for streaming it, very important!) David Lang is a composer whose music is so awesome I hesitate to even stream any of it here, because I feel like it’s all too long to really excerpt properly, and too megabyte intensive for me to upload at this basement Starbucks.
So instead, everybody go buy some David Lang off of iTunes!
Anybody who doesn’t wish to listen to my diatribe should navigate away from this page at this time.
We need to briefly discuss that this abortion of an article also won a Pulitzer. First of all, everybody I know emailed it to me when it first came out. Second of all, the comments attendant to this article on the Washington Post were unreal; I don’t know where they are now. Anyway, the basic premise is that Joshua Bell, who is, like, young and talented and handsome, went into a subway station in our nation’s capital and played a little recital during the morning rush. Nobody paid any attention because they were too busy on their iPods or whatever. Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation. However, this article! It drove me to madness! I hope that everybody reads this thing and proves me wrong, that it’s not through-and-through offensive.
I’m re-reading it now and my heart is racing. The writing is as appalling as The Da Winci Code but somehow striving for more. Check it:
Mark Leithauser has held in his hands more great works of art than any king or Pope or Medici ever did.
Hot Grammar, right? Or:
“I had a time crunch,” recalls Sheron Parker, an IT director for a federal agency. “I had an 8:30 training class, and first I had to rush Evvie off to his teacher, then rush back to work, then to the training facility in the basement.”
Evvie is her son, Evan. Evan is 3.
Whyyyyyyyyyy is that two sentences? What is this weird halting style? This method of writing? This jerking? It continueth:
There’s nothing wrong with Myint’s hearing. He had buds in his ear. He was listening to his iPod.
Oh. Was he? Listening? To his iPod? What? What is the question. What does that mean? Jerky Jerky.
For many of us, the explosion in technology has perversely limited, not expanded, our exposure to new experiences.
“I didn’t think nothing of it,” Tillman says, “just a guy trying to make a couple of bucks.” Tillman would have given him one or two, he said, but he spent all his cash on lotto.
When he is told that he stiffed one of the best musicians in the world, he laughs.
“Is he ever going to play around here again?”
“Yeah, but you’re going to have to pay a lot to hear him.”
Tillman didn’t win the lottery, either.
What are we supposed to make of this little parable? Also whose voice is, “you’re going to have to pay a lot to hear him?” What drives me crazy about this whole experiment is that it is designed to fail and then give some random guy the opportunity to quietly pontificate (quoting KANT!) up in the Post. The tone is “elevated,” the same way people change their discourse when they say grace before a meal. The writer feels free to talk about how “we” as Americans rush around, his prime example being that we rush around during rush hour. There is something additionally nasty, I think, about subjecting the Chaconne, which is so divine, to this treatment. It’s chamber music, not public art. I have many times stopped in Times Square for the nine seconds it takes to quickly appreciate the Lichtenstein murals, or the Jones/Ginzel eye mosaics in the old World Trade Center stop: all examples of good public art making “us” do what “we” should: take a minute. Not fourteen minutes, are you crazy?