attentive, heavily mascaraed pleasure droids
I recently acquired, through means both delicious and forbidden under Geneva convention letter, several pieces of anti-fauvist sculpture from Carten’s, an art and antiquities treasure house in St. Vincent, Tx. Each of the works interested me separately, and would fetch a comfortable sum if presented for individual sale in the freelance auction circuit. I find myself unable to separate them, however, as I have discovered they are part of a larger collection. Funded by an eccentric collector/architect of Uncertain European Descent, Wilhelm Arden Knokker (pronounced k-nocker), the pieces were originally considered a “collection because of their collective theme –objects unified by measures of relative lethality.”
An entire Aesthetic movement erupted from the study of this collection. Called “The School” by its founder, Samuel Trace, this scene/movement/armed anti-artistic resistance held one precept above all others: Any artistic object may be judged by a single criterion– If I struck a grown man on the head with this piece, would it kill him? As with any notion of artistic measure, this question contains a series of subtextual inquiries. The School believed that if one answered this web of internal, tacit, prenatal, and hypnogogic under-questions, the artistic merit of the piece was completely discerned.
Opponents of the school, who often did not even know of their opposition since, by definition ‘any not for us are agin us,’ required of their art simpler pleasures and clearer answers. Upon viewing a painting, the day to day man on the street will ask, in tones both common and unpretentious, “Does this painting accurately depict a shirtless Greek gentleman teaching pre-calculus algebra to a classroom in which every desk is filled by attentive, heavily mascaraed pleasure droids eager to interrupt the lecture with the trapdoor clacking of their cryosteel French tips and the cicadic hum of the cold fusive power-plants sleeping fitfully in their synthetic bowels?” Yes or No?
It’s a simple question, and it leads logically to other inquiries. The instructor looks perfectly content without his shirt. Did he forget it on the steps of his expansive manor house or on the banks of some indeterminate rivulet? Why was he in such a hurry to leave such an estate, or such an indeterminate rivulet? Had the fumes from the remodeling become too much for him? Yesses and Nos. In the face of such a hypothetical piece, viewer response scholars will question the evocative aspects of the teacher’s physique and the relative heights, weights, and the intuitive links which may or may not exist between the viewer, instructor, and students. Has he removed his shirt as a reward for perfect attendance? Would such a thing be considered dirty pool in the theoretical educational system implied by the assembling of these automatons in the form of a class? Yea or Nay. Hit me.
The School considered these analyses laughable. It was, to them, inconceivable that aesthetic worth should be determined by the artist’s intent, the reaction of the viewer or even the quality of the materials. Only one question was necessary to the so-called Tracies: If I struck a grown man on the head with this piece, would it kill him?