how to get an artist out of your life
how to get an artist out of your life
by J. Claudius Cloyd
If youâ€™re wonderingâ€¦
â€¦ how to get an artist out of your life, just do what I did: First, when he brings up the subject of his MFA, tell him you really donâ€™t see the pointâ€¦ that as far as you can tell he paid at least 30 grand for a degreeâ€¦ that he says got him a job (of which heâ€™s always bitching and moaning about) that only pays about 11 bucks an hourâ€¦ only a little bit more than you made working at Safewayâ€¦ a total rip offâ€¦ and donâ€™t forget to mention that having a MFA doesnâ€™t really make a person an artist and it sure as hell doesnâ€™t make the art any goodâ€¦ if anything it becomes more bloodless and wittyâ€¦ you knowâ€¦ more conceptualâ€¦.
Then heâ€™ll say that you donâ€™t know what youâ€™re talking aboutâ€¦ that it was a valuable experience which allowed him to work with his instructors not merely as a student but as a colleague, and that they donâ€™t have any motivation to rip him offâ€¦ that they want him to have success, because his success is their successâ€¦ and then he goes on to repeat that it really was a positive experience and that he hopes that you get to have that positive grad school experience some dayâ€¦
Now you can take it 2 ways from here. Â You could go the Socratic routeâ€¦ because your ass has been reading Platoâ€¦ and question the dubious, not to mention ambiguous, concept known as â€˜successâ€™ and then convincingly conclude that there is no such thingâ€”you know, the old â€˜only thing that can fail me now is successâ€™ argumentâ€”or you can play it dirty like me and point out that the reason he mightâ€™ve had such a positive experience mayâ€™ve been due to the fact that his parents paid a good chunk of his tuitionâ€¦ which of course he denies vehementlyâ€¦ going as far as searching out bank statements as proofâ€¦ but he doesnâ€™t remember like you do, does he? Â He has selectively forgotten the time that you, him, his girlfriend, and his mom drove to Seattle to put his sculptures in some warehouse turned galleryâ€¦ the four of you were squished together in the front seat of a truckâ€¦ there wasnâ€™t a bit of room to spareâ€¦ you didnâ€™t even want to be thereâ€¦ but you
were sitting right thereâ€”when the artistâ€™s mom said that they (meaning herself the artistâ€™s father)â€¦ they were selling the house that they bought in Eugeneâ€¦ the one they rented to him and his 2 sisters while they were getting their degrees at the U of Oâ€¦ and she said his share should cover grad schoolâ€¦ you saidâ€”you, yourself aspiring to get a PhD in Englishâ€”you said, wowâ€¦ grad school all paid forâ€¦ Iâ€™d totally go for thatâ€¦ Iâ€™m totally jealousâ€¦â€ and even his girlfriend agreed which is a big thing because the 2 of you hardly ever agree on anythingâ€¦.
You sensed, though, even back then that he had a problem with thatâ€¦ Mr. Independent-Bohemia-Punk-Rock Do-It-Yourself-Artist-Guy getting a break from mommy and daddyâ€¦ he was reticent alrightâ€¦ not quite so independentâ€¦ not quite so punk rock as he liked to think of himself asâ€¦ but mommy put her darling at easeâ€¦ â€œDonâ€™t be silly. Â You guys paid for it. Â You guys paid the rent. Â It was an investment, and now itâ€™s paying off. Â Donâ€™t you worry. Â Me and your dad are getting our share too.â€
You donâ€™t bother to bring it up because heâ€™d just deny it anyways, so you say
â€œWhatâ€™s the problem with that? Â Youâ€™re luckyâ€¦ Iâ€™d kill to have what you haveâ€¦â€ then he says, real angry like, â€œBecause itâ€™s none of your goddamn business, thatâ€™s why!â€ And you think of explaining that once a person starts using their experience as a premise in an argumentâ€”we are, after all, having an argumentâ€”that that personâ€™s opponent has the right to question that very premiseâ€¦ itâ€™s like in courtâ€¦ both the defense and the prosecution get to question the same witnessâ€¦ you know this because you seen shit like this on Law and Order and because you got yourself a real degreeâ€”A DEGREE IN ENGLISHâ€¦ albeit an unmarketable degreeâ€¦ but at least a degree that fostered some critical thinkingâ€¦ after all, youâ€™ve read Paradise Lost like 6 times! Â You got a â€˜C+â€™ in symbolic logic! Â You took a class on Nietzsche! Â You took a class on Henry James and even almost liked one of his novels! Â If A is B and B is C then A is C! Â That means you donÃ¢
ï¿½â„¢t got to take any shit from anybody!
But like I say, you donâ€™t bring it up because you know that he always gets this way when heâ€™s under pressureâ€¦ heâ€™s living in one of his parentsâ€™ houses againâ€”a real nice one tooâ€¦ a spacious 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom houseâ€¦ and it has a big ass garage to construct his mechanical sculptures and shitâ€”anyhow heâ€™s under pressure because his parents really want to sell that fucker and make some money, but they canâ€™t because heâ€™s broke and canâ€™t afford to pay much rentâ€¦ and did I mention that itâ€™s in fuckinâ€™ Portland, OR? Â To rent a place like that would cost 15 hundred, 2 grand, easy. Â He doesnâ€™t pay nowhere near that. Â Plus heâ€™s stressed because his girlfriend all of a sudden wants to get marriedâ€”another fuckinâ€™ poserâ€”donâ€™t let her dreadlocks, the black clothes, and the nerdy hipster glasses fool you! Â The bitch is Martha Stewart through and through! You can only imagine what the wedding would be like! Â Get out the silverware and the paper p
lates! Â Bust out the lace and the shit kicking boots! Â Theyâ€™re going to have themselves a punk rock weddingâ€¦ and itâ€™s going to be good and cheap tooâ€¦ maybe if she can keep her head theyâ€™ll keep it under 20 grandâ€¦ everybody so damn happyâ€”too damn happy if anyone asks youâ€¦ but they donâ€™tâ€¦ the fuckersâ€¦ ah I donâ€™t know about you, but for meâ€”thereâ€™s isnâ€™t anything more repugnant than a room full of people who are self-satisfied, wear costumes, and snuggle in vapid platitudesâ€¦ but what am I saying? Â Of course you know. Â What do you need me for? Â You know all of this, donâ€™t you? Â You knew all along? Â But youâ€™re just sitting there, listening politelyâ€¦ so what do you think? Â Howâ€™d I do? Â No no noâ€¦ donâ€™t answerâ€¦ I donâ€™t careâ€¦ the thing isnâ€™t to merely elicit a bunch of vacuous complimentsâ€¦ but to create something that illustrates the unity the chaos the absurdity the interconnectedness of everythingâ€¦ to communicateâ€¦ maybe instr
uctâ€¦ only then does poetry mean anythingâ€¦ and for that it has to come from experienceâ€¦ but the thing is that experience hurtsâ€¦ it eventually maims youâ€¦ it runs you over with its carâ€¦ did you know that Experience drives an H-2? Â It leaves you twitching on the pavement and Experience, and his girlfriend, Pride, who by the way has a great body and is wearing a very low-cut blouseâ€¦ they go through your pockets looking for some cash or a credit cardâ€”gas is expensive after allâ€”and he takes a rope and ties one end around your ankle and the other end to the tail bumper and drags your ass going 70 mph on some pothole ridden highwayâ€¦ no, you need not answerâ€¦ the only thing is that since youâ€™ve known all alongâ€¦ before I wrote thisâ€¦ before this even happenedâ€¦ the only thing is that I just wish you wouldâ€™ve enlightened me in the first placeâ€¦ I wish you wouldâ€™ve just tapped me on the side of the head and told me to keep my mouth shut because well, you k
now, friendsâ€”even if they are artistsâ€”are hard to come byâ€¦
0 thoughts on “how to get an artist out of your life”
umm. Now i’m banging my head and chewing glass sir–so good! Loved it thru and thru. i remember you mentioning this guy a while back and we talked some on it. Incidentally, i am typing this comment from my bubble so it may be slightly vacuous–especially in a shag carpet atmosphere.
i appreciated the delivery, the crafty perspective / modus operendi, and the plainspoken omniscience garnered out of that whopping colorful catharsism exploding onto that tabula rasa surface we call “Life” you have lovingly pumped out of your muse here!
Witty, charmingly crass, funny as hell, and microcosmically archetypical of the artist’s tragic ‘road to happiness’, “how to get an artist out of your life” rocks me and leaves me with a deep throttled and actual experience transposed into my very being. You’ve earned your own M.F.A., my friend, and it stands for ‘Mother-fucking attitude’! What a voice and style! The interactiveness later in piece was classic and nice touch to draw in reader into the world of the writer and creates an image in our minds as if we are hearing the story firsthand in the poet’s kitchen drinking coffee with biscotti! It’s a very ‘real’ feeling with lots of ‘readability glue’.
You’ve taken it up a notch here–excellente! Hard work deserves a rest–you surely deserve some downtime on your backside! See ya on the flipside!
Wow, thanks. You really put a lot into that comment, and it shows. In fact, many of your comments have been quite astute. Well done.
One more thing: When I write prose these days, I find myself imitating the likes of John Fante and Louis-Ferdinand CÃ©line. So if you like what I’ve written here, check out those authors.