November 12, 2015

WITH DNC IN MIND, CITY BANS CARRYING URINE, FECES: Reflecting on the double-barreled debacles at Mizzou and Yale, James Lileks writes:

The point of life is to never have an unpleasant emotional response. To anything. Note I didn’t say that the point is to avoid them. That suggests personal responsibility, when the onus ought to be on everyone else: offense of any kind cannot be made. What’s more the definition of offense is the sole possession of the offended. To take offense is to proclaim virtue, to show your highly developed sensibilities, and the point of having these sensibilities is to find a job, or career, or office, or blog, or tumblr, or some other platform where you can ensure that offense is never given. (If one gets a job doing this, it will be by appointment, not election.) The person will pass from the bubble of college to the bubble of social enforcement, keen on perfecting the world. And for the rest of his or her or xer professional life, they’ll be shouting BE QUIET to a calm, rational adult who is too terrified to say “you’re a terrible child who understands nothing. Go to your room.”

These people will produce nothing. They will create no great art, write no symphonies, conjure no novels that speak across the decades, sculpt nothing of beauty. The world outside the bubble is irredeemable. It cannot, of course, be remade all at once, but tomorrow’s a new day. Rome wasn’t wrecked in a day.

But perhaps though, James is wrong about one detail in the above passage (it happens to everyone, eventually, alas) — the great work of art produced by today’s college students already exists. As Stephen L. Miller writes at NRO, the University of Missouri’s “Poop Swastika” is the ultimate “Triumph of Conceptual Art:”

Some may find the image of a Nazi symbol painted in fecal matter to be offensive, but we should examine the message that lies beneath the surface of the image, while striving to release our own biases against art. The startling complexion of a brown swastika against a white background certainly seems to recall the motivations behind a crucifix submerged in urine.

Based on the reactions to Poop Swastika on both social and traditional media, the artist is unlikely to come forward and will probably remain a figure shrouded in mystery. A curious public awaits to see whether his or her works will appear again, either at another college campus or perhaps, because of the passions the work has aroused, in a New York City gallery.

Is the Poop Swastika real?  Apparently so. But even it wasn’t, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from sources as disparate as Tom Wolfe in The Painted Word, the “fake but accurate” New York Times, and the entire oeuvre of Yoko Ono, art need not be real to be great.

Nay, a triumph.
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