Monday, April 09, 2007

Mommy Swine

Joshua BellA article entitled "Pearls before Breakfast" is bound to depict someone as swine. In this case, the swine are the people who didn't stop to listen to Joshua Bell busking in a Washington DC subway. The nauseatingly pretentious tone is supposed to show that people don't recognize beauty. The writer Gene asks, "Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?"

No offense to Mr. Bell, who is a genius violinist.  And yes he certainly sounded better than the average busker. However the acoustics were awful. Gene disagrees and says "The acoustics proved surprisingly kind." I agree with him that "[the subway layout] caught the sound and bounced it back round and resonant." To me, it bounced the sound around and around like a bad reverb. The notes ran over one another.

The acoustics of music matters to me as well the player and the instrument. If that makes me swine, so be it. 

Also to answer his question, "Do I have time for beauty?" Yes, I have a lot more time than I used to being a SAHM and less. I'm no longer corporate swine. Though I do have to rush sometimes to get my son to his various appointments and my daughter to preschool, but otherwise yes, I have time to linger dawdle when I walk from point A to point B.wander over to where my kids want to go. I have no choice. I herd swine walk with young children.

My kids aged 4 and 2 both make our walk to the library, a multi-sensory journey. They notice and comment on every flower, pebbles, the beehives.  Every difference is noted and stared at, even once a dead rat. Okay, the dead rat was really gross.  On my own, I wouldn't have looked at it so closely as I did with my daughter who was both repulsed and fascinated by its squashed dessication. And it did have a kind of stark beauty.

My children have no idea what "moral mathematics of the moment" means. And I don't know if faced with Joshua Bell in a confined space, we would have hurried on -- "Too loud!" my son might have exclaimed. Or if the video distorted the experience, and we would have found Joshua's playing beautiful even in the subway. If so, we'd have stopped and I'd have had time to notice, "Hey that's Joshua Bell!" disguised both musically and physically.

Either way, as moms, I think most of us recognize there is no standard of beauty we all can agree on. My swine son finds his toy trains a constant source of joy and beauty, as well as his dayglo orange pants. My swine daughter loves her garish sparkly shoes decorated with Disney princesses.

Ironically one of my daughter's favorite games is to address me as "Mommy [insert name of animal here]."  I must respond with "Daughter [animal].  So calling her "daughter swine" would be great to her.

I think they're the most beautiful fascinating children in the world. I pity the mom who doesn't find constant joy and beauty in their own children in between bouts of finding them utter pains.  Even with all his medical issues and multiple delays, I'd still choose my son, quickly won over by his sweet cry of "Mummy!" and the way he laughs and laughs until he's totally breathless.

But no, I personally don't find all children are beautiful.  As an ideal, yes, and certainly I tend to find most children cute. Yet though it may be unPC, I think a few children are just plain ugly and a few more are constantly annoying. And I honestly and sincerely hope that their parents think otherwise.   

I also hope that if Joshua Bell's mom was in the subway, she found her son's performance utterly entrancing.

Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog


Anonymous said...

There is a great response to the Joshua Bell article by a NYC subway musician in her blog:
She interprets the situation differently from the Washington Post reporters... I thought you might find it interesting.

Thida said...

Thanks for the link. That was a very interesting read. I hadn't really thought of busking as a profession but it makes total sense.