Pulitzer ironies

Gene Weingarten won a Pulitzer Prize for his feature article in the Washington Post, Pearls before Breakfast. It discusses a little social experiment the paper conducted. They convinced Joshua Bell, one of the world’s leading violinists to busk at a Washington Metro station, curious to know if commuters would react to wonderful violin pieces wonderfully played on a Stradivarius. Or would they just keep walking? I think you know the answer.

I couldn’t help thinking that another level of the same experiment played out when the Post published the article; itself a beautiful piece of delicately crafted work. Did people pause and read the article or did they just keep turning the pages on the way to the Business Section and the Sports Section?

Now here we are on a third level; an endorsement of a comment on an experiment. On an obscure marketing blog with a modest readership. But that’s not the point. The point is, here is the article.

There is another irony. If, as the article suggests, beauty is properly acknowledged when it is in an appropriate context, a well regarded writer in a famous newspaper is the contextual equivalent of a virtuoso in a concert hall. But he probably deserved a Pulitzer anyway.



  1. I agree that that is indeed an irony, and it is made richer that I am on a different continent than you and am now, by extension, made part of the circle by reading your blog.

    Can you imagine the joy a in the few who recognized the playing for what it was? Just like finding the article was a hidden gem – finding that playing must have been magical and wondrous. But isn’t that what art is for? Dscovering it in unexpected places just makes it more special.

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