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€¦
how to get an artist out of your life