If you’ve been waiting for a sign from the universe to give your life some direction, hoo buddy here I am and sorry I’m late. On behalf of the universe please let me encourage you to quit your artistic pursuits in favour of a real vocation. I’m not saying art is not a real job, I’m just saying that if you (like, specifically you) were to be doing it…then yes, it wouldn’t be.
Don’t be upset, it’s just that now is not a good time for you to be peddling your subpar Soundcloud mixtape or to be inviting people to your terrible, terrible gigs. Religious conflict is tearing the planet apart, a sex offender is at the helm of world politics, and robots are fast threatening to take over the economy. Humanity is about 10 years from being conquered by artificially intelligent, extremist, dildos.
We urgently need to be playing to our strengths, planning for a future we can all survive, and I promise you, making art is not a strength. So, without further ado, I would like to present an argument to you about why art is not a good use of your lifetime.
PART 1: What Even Is Art?
According to popular philosophy, art is defined as “beauty on display.” The idea is that when something beautiful is shown to an audience (even just to one person) in such a way that intentionally highlights the beauty of that thing, the thing becomes art. So if your boyfriend farts in bed and subjects you to a dutch oven as a joke, guess what, you’re dating an artist. When the apocalypse comes, he will be the first to go. Dump him, date a doctor instead.
But if that’s what art is technically, then whether art is good or bad depends on its relationship to beauty.
The thing about beauty is that it’s a continuum. Things are beautiful because they are part of a process that tells a story which we find important. So like, if someone has beautiful legs, those legs are beautiful because they tell us a story about how those legs have been passed down through genetics and the person who is attached to the legs has been eating 8 Weet-Bix for breakfast everyday for their entire life and they work out heaps, and those things have culminated in the formation of their perfect, gorgeous legs.
The conversion of beauty into good art relies on an acute ability to isolate a moment in that continuum, and present it in such a way that the isolated moment indicates the importance of the greater process. So a photograph of beautiful legs, in the perfect lighting, is a work of art because of the information it tells us and the way that information makes us feel.
And the way information makes us feel depends on our personal, social, and historical context. So toned legs are all the rage at the moment, but back in the day people were living for those legs looking like porridge in a water balloon.
PART 2: The Perfect Shit
There is a phenomena, known among certain circles by the term “Poo-phoria.”
Y’all ever do the most perfect shit in your life, where your butthole dilates all the way but not painfully too far, and dat dookie just slides on out at a moderately slow speed, and all your chakras line up, and you’re incredibly proud of yourself and thrilled to be alive?
The reason the perfect shit brings you and many others so much joy is because it is the right size and shape to hit all the nerve endings in your tract, the most important being your vagus nerve. This causes your body to relax and your blood pressure to drop and gives you a rush of dopamine.
Here’s the catch though – you can only naturally have a poo-phoric shit once a day and only after a full night’s rest. Some people are addicted to the poo-phoric high though, so they over-stuff their body and then force themselves to have massive shits multiple times a day. This is bad for a number of reasons.
Firstly because leave your poor little butthole alone dude, c’mon man. But secondly, because overstuffing yourself in this way can mess up your entire tract and completely destroy your vagus nerve. It can get to the point where pooping becomes horribly uncomfortable and makes people avoid using the bathroom unless they absolutely have to, during which time they are continuously unhappy.
Which I guess…is kinda like…the way people feel…when they’re forced to come to your gigs.
Huh. How ’bout that.
Art is absolutely an essential by-product of living life as a human being. We are critical thinkers by nature – we observe beauty, and we derive joy by presenting that beauty to others. But the current trend of inducing art from situations where there isn’t any unobserved beauty left is destroying the entire process. If you think most music sounds exactly the same these days, then you know what I mean. You shouldn’t make art just because you enjoy making art. You’re supposed to do it because you feel compelled to.
I guess what I’m saying is, what happens in vagus should stay in vagus.
I’m so sorry.
PART 3: If You’re A White Dude Doing Stand Up Comedy, Please For The Love Of All That Is Good And Pure, Please Quit
If you’re a white dude doing stand up comedy, please for the love of all that is good and pure, please quit.
What are you saying that hasn’t already been said by every single other white dude in history up until now?? Why is the fact that those same exact words are coming out of your scuzzy mouth so important??? Dude, seriously, shut the heck up. No one wants to know about how often you eat your imaginary girlfriend’s pussy, or that you have this one friend who’s always making trouble on boys nights out, or that you consider yourself a pretty good guy and a feminist and oh by the way here’s a cheeky joke about Times Up.
You 100% totally could have gotten into law school. If you’re really a feminist, that’s what you would have done, and used your privilege to help all the other minorities you pretend not to be threatened by get equal footing on the world stage. Instead you’re “making art” and voluntarily living a life of poverty. As though it wasn’t crowded enough down here at the bottom of the boat.
Please dude. Do better.
PART 4: Emotional Labour and Existential Dread
Often times, creating great art can reveal the existential truth that, despite the fact that everything in our life happens to us, we are not in fact the centre of the cosmos. More accurately, we are black lipstick on the face of the Milky Way – just a passing phase in its lifecycle and ultimately unimportant.
This truth can be a soul crushing conclusion to reach for most people, but especially so for artists, who characterise their existence by their ability to observe and report. Finding out that they’re essentially observing shenanigans and reporting shenanigans can often make them question the reasons to go on living.
For example, Van Gogh came to this realisation and cut off his ear because he was sick of listening to everyone’s bullshit all day being like, “Oooh my corset is too tight and it takes ages to curl my hair and my umbrella is tiny and not even waterproof!” He was like, “Y’all need to cowboy the fuck up, don’t you know that the sky be all wiggly and swirly and shit? This ain’t no joke, bihh!” and sliced the lil noise-boi clean off the side of his noggin.
The man was as mad as a loose peanut in a tin can. True story. But that’s what making good art can do to a person – it can render them completely and utterly vexed.
All artists go through something similar, and the strongest among them find a wholesome outlet or simply internalise their pain and self-destruct. The weaker among them often make the news for their abusive tendencies.
The amount of emotional labour required to make really good art cannot be understated, and one way or another that labour is exerted. In the case of abusers, they outsource this emotional labour onto people they can victimise and hold dominion over for a time, so that the existential dread can be differed to a third party long enough for them to regain their strength and keep making that art.
But the fact remains, someone must always suffer to make great art. And if you’re not willing to suffer, then you will either make shitty art or become a shitty person.
It’s time we took our finger out of our buttholes, had a nice dinner, and go to bed for a full night’s rest. And maybe in the morning, if we just relax a bit, we’ll be ready to take a nice shit. And then promptly begin getting ready for work at our new, real jobs.