Find Your Own Truth


“Find your own truth,” Ray Bradbury said, offering advice to an aspiring, young writer on a radio call-in show.

Most people loathe vague advice. We want thorough and perfect answers, the kind that will help us cross our proverbial bridges. A super-secret part of us also wants those answers to be pointed and easy to incorporate into our methodology, but another part knows the seeker of easy paths often gets what they pay for in that regard.

When we listen to a radio show guesting a master craftsman, however, we expect some nugget of information to unlock the mystery of how that master craftsman managed to carve out a niche in the overpopulated world of his craft. We want tidbits, words of wisdom about design, and/or habits we can imitate and emulate, until we reach a point where we don’t have to feel so alone in our structure. Vague advice and vague platitudes feel like a waste of our time. Especially when that advice comes so close to our personal core and stops abrupt.

Bradbury went onto define this relative vision of an artistic truth as he saw it, on this radio show, but that definition didn’t step much beyond that precipice. I already tuned him out by the time he began speaking of other matters, and I eventually turned the channel. I might have missed some great advice, but I was frustrated.

If the reader is anything like me, they went back to doing what they were doing soon after hearing that advice, but the vital components of deep and profound advice arrive when it starts popping up in the course of doing whatever it is we do. It might take hours, it might take weeks, but this idea of an individual truth, as it pertains to one’s artistic vision, becomes applicable so often and, in so many situations, that we begin to chew on it and digest it. Others may continue to find this vague advice about an artistic truth nothing more than waste matter –to bring this analogy to its biological conclusion– but it begins to infiltrate everything the eager student does. If the advice is pertinent, the recipient begins spotting truths what should’ve been so obvious before. They begin to see that what they thought was their artistic truth, and what their primary influences considered true, is not as true for them as they once thought.

Vague advice may seem inconsequential to those who do not bump up against the precipice. For these people, a platitude such as, “Find your own truth” may have an “of course” suffix attached to it. “Of course an artist needs to find their artistic truth when approaching an artistic project,” they say. “Isn’t that the very definition of art?” It is, but if we were to ask an artist about the current project they’re working on, and its relation to their definition of an artistic truth, they will surely reply that they think they’re really onto something. If we ask them about the project after they finish the piece, we will likely receive a revelation of the artist’s frustration in one form or another, as most art involves the pursuit of an artistic truth coupled with an inability to capture it to the artist’s satisfaction. Yet, we could say that the pursuit of artistic truth, coupled with the frustration of never achieving it, provides more fuel to the artist than an actual, final, arrived-upon truth ever could.

Finding an artistic truth, involves intensive knowledge of the rules of a craft, locating the parameters of the artist’s ability, finding their formula within, and whittling. Any individual who has ever attempted to create art has started with a master’s template in mind. The aspiring, young artist tries to imitate and emulate that master’s design, and they wonder what that master might do in moments of artistic uncertainty: Can I do this? What would they do? Should I do that? Is my truth nestled somewhere inside all of that awaiting further exploration? At a furthered point in the process, the artist discovers other truths, including artistic truths that contradict prior truths, until all truths become falsehoods when compared to the current artistic truth. This is where the whittling begins.

In a manner similar to the whittler whittling away at a stick to create form, the storyteller is always whittling. He’s whittling when he writes. He’s whittling when he reads. He’s whittling in a movie theater, spotting subplots and subtext that his fellow moviegoers may not see. He’s whittling when we tell him about our experience at the used car dealership. He’s trying to get to the core of the tale, a core the storyteller might not see. “I could tell you about the greatest adventure tale ever told, or a story that everyone agrees is the funniest they’ve ever heard,” she says, “and you’d focus on the part where I said the instead of the.” The whittler searches for the truth, or a subjective truth that he can use. Is it the truth, or the truth? It doesn’t matter, because he doesn’t believe that the teller’s representation of the truth is the truth.

Once the artist has learned all the rules, defined the parameters, and found his own formula within a study of a master’s template, and all the templates that contradict that master template, it is time for him to branch out and find his own artistic truth.

The Narrative Essay

Even while scouring the read-if-you-like (RIYL) links the various outlets provide for the books I’ve enjoyed previously, I knew that the narrative essay existed. Just as I’ve always known that the strawberry existed, I knew about the form some call memoir, also known as literary non-fiction or creative non-fiction, but have you ever tasted a strawberry that caused you to flirt with the idea of eating nothing but strawberries for the rest of your life? If you have, your enjoyment probably had more to do with your diet prior to eating that strawberry than the actual flavor of the inexplicably delicious fruit. In the course of one’s life, a person might accidentally indulge in a diet that leaves them vitamin deficient, and they might not know the carelessness of their ways until they take that first bite of the little heart-shaped berry.

“You simply must try the strawberries,” a friend said in a buffet line at the office. I love strawberries, but I didn’t even notice them in the shadow of a glorious array of meats and carbs at the other end of the buffet. While I stood there, impatiently waiting for the slow forking procedures some have for finding the perfect piece of meat, she gave me a look. “Just try them,” she said. I did.

Prior to eating that strawberry, I knew nothing about chemical rewards the brain offers when we fulfill a need, and I didn’t know anything about it after I took that bite either. The only thing I knew, or thought, was that that strawberry was so delicious that I experienced an inexplicable feeling of euphoria. The line was slow, so I was allowed to eat another strawberry without progressing past that station in the buffet. The second one was almost as delicious as the first, and before I knew it, I was gorging on the fruit when another friend behind me, in the buffet line, informed me that I was holding up the line.

By this point, the reader might like to know the title of the one gorgeous little narrative essay that spawned my feelings of creative euphoria. The only answer I can provide is that for those suffering a depletion, one essay will not quench it any more than one strawberry can. One narrative essay did not provide a eureka-style epiphany that led me to understanding of all the creative avenues worthy of exploration in the form. One essay did not quench the idea depletion I experienced in the time-tested formulas and notions I had of the world of storytelling. I just knew I needed something more and something different, and I read all the narrative essays I could find in a manner equivalent to the effort I put into exploring the maximum benefits the strawberry could provide, until a grocery store checker proclaimed that she never witnessed anyone purchase as many strawberries as I was in one transaction. She even called a fellow employee over to witness the spectacle I laid out on her conveyor belt. The unspoken critique between the two was that no wife would permit a man to make such an exaggerated, imbalanced purchase, so I must be a self-indulgent bachelor.

An unprecedented amount of strawberries did not provide me with an unprecedented amount of euphoria, of course, as the brain appears to only provide euphoric chemical rewards for satisfying a severe depletion, but the chemical rewards of finding my own truth, in the narrative essay format, have proven almost endless. The same holds true for the rewards I’ve experienced reading the output of others who have reached their creative peaks. I knew narrative essays existed, as I said, but I considered most to be dry, personal essays that attempted to describe the cute, funny things that happened to them on their way to 40. I never thought of them as a vehicle for the exploration of unique creativity, not until this epiphany occurred within the stories written by those authors who accomplished it.

It is difficult to describe an epiphany to a person who has never experienced one or even to those who have. The variables are so unique that they can be difficult to describe to a listener donning an of-course face. More often than not, an epiphany does not involve unique, ingenious thoughts. My personal definition involves of-course thoughts nestled among commonplace thoughts that one has to arrive at by their own accord. When such an explanation doesn’t make a dent in the of- course faces, we can only conclude that epiphanies are personal.

For me, the narrative essay was an avenue to the truth my mind craved, and I might have never have ventured down that path had Ray Bradbury’s vague four words failed to register. For those who stubbornly maintain their of-course facial expression in the shadow of the maxim the late, great Ray Bradbury, I offer another vague piece of advice that the late, great Rodney Dangerfield offered to an aspiring, young comedian:

You’ll figure it out.”

If a vague piece of advice, such as these two nuggets, appear so obvious that they’re hardly worth saying, or the recipient of such advice can’t understand how it might apply, no matter how often one thinks about it, does it, attempts to add to it, or whittles away at it to find a core worthy of exploration, I add, you’ll either figure it out, or you won’t.

A Simplicity Trapped in a Complex Mind


“That’s David Hauser,” my friend Paul responded when I asked about the guy who sat in the corner of the liquor store, the one who appeared to have full-fledged conversations with himself. “He’s crazy, an absolute loon. Went crazy about a year ago. People say he got so smart that he just snapped one day.” Paul snapped his fingers. “Like that!” he said.

I frequented The Family Liquor Store for just this reason: I loved anomalies, and I learned that The Family Liquor Store was a veritable breeding ground for them. In the sheltered life I lived, I knew little to nothing of anomalies. I knew that some people succeeded and others failed, but the failures in Dad’s inner circle were a rung or two lower. I knew nothing of the depths of failure and despair that I would encounter in the liquor store owned by my friend Paul’s parents, where Paul also worked.

Even while immersed in that world of despair, I encountered pride, coping mechanisms, and lies. A customer named John informed me that he once played against Wayne Gretzky in a minor league hockey match, Jay informed me of the time he screamed “Go to Hell JFK!” to the man’s face, and Ronny told me of the various strength contests he won. The fact that I flirted with believing any aspects of these tales informed those in The Family Liquor Store that I was almost as laughable as the fools that told them.

“Why would they lie about things like that?” I asked to top off the joke.

“Wouldn’t you?” they asked when they reached a break in their laughter. “If you lived the life they have.”

The unspoken punchline to this ongoing joke was that I might be more lacking in street smarts than any person they had ever met. The answer to the question that was never asked regarding my standing in their world was that a thorough understanding of their world could be said to be on par with any intellectual study of the great men of the book smarts world, in that they both involve a basic understanding of human nature.

“You see these guys here,” Paul’s father whispered to me on a previous day at The Family Liquor Store, gesturing out to its patrons. “I could introduce you to these men, one by one, and you’d hear varying stories of success and failure, but the one thing you’ll hear in almost every case is the story about how a woman put them down. They all fell for the wrong woman.”

Knowing how this line would stick with me, I turned back to Paul’s father while still in the moment.

“What’s the wrong woman?” I asked. “And what did those women do to these guys?”

“It varies,” he said. “You can’t know. All you can know is that you don’t know, because you’ll be all starry-eyed in the moment. Bring them home to meet your dad, your grandma, and all your friends, and you listen to what they say.”

In the life I spent following that advice, I met a number of fussy guys. Some wouldn’t even look at a woman below an eight, on the relative scale of physical appearance. Others looked for excessive class, intelligence, strength and weakness, and still others were in a perpetual, perhaps unconscious, search for their ma. For me, it’s always been about sanity. I’ve date some beautiful women throughout my life and some strong women who could school me in intelligence. Most of the women I decided to date brought that sassy element I so enjoy, but it’s always came back to the FrootLoopery index for me. I had an inordinate attraction to the mama-that-could-bring-the-drama for much of my life, but when those ultimatums of increased involvement arrived that sage advice from Paul’s father would weaved its way into my calculations. I did not want to end up in an incarnation of my personal visage of hell, otherwise known as The Family Liquor Store, where it appeared a wide variety of bitter, lost souls entered by the droves, but none escaped.

For all of the questions I asked in The Family Liquor Store, there was one question that I dare not ask: Why would a normal family, with normal kids, want to open a liquor store on the corners of failure and despair? I would not ask this question, even as a young man with an insufferable amount of curiosity, because I knew that the answers I received would reveal some uncomfortable truths about the one that answered. One answer I did receive, over time, and in a roundabout way: Surrounding one’s self by failure and despair does make one feel better about our standing in the world by comparison.

“How does one become so smart that they go crazy?” I asked Paul, still staring at David Hauser, the man who was still discussing things with himself

“I don’t know,” Paul said. “They say he had a fantastic job, prestige, and boatloads of money, but he got fired one day, and no one knows why. His wife divorced him when he couldn’t find other work, and he ended up sitting in the corner over there, talking to himself for hours on end, and drinking on his brew.”

Among the possibilities he listed was the idea that a woman might have led to David’s fall. I latched onto that possibility, because it suggested Paul’s father was right. I was satisfied with the answer, but Paul and those who informed him wouldn’t let the too-smart angle go in regard to David Hauser’s condition. They declared that was the, “The nut of it all.”

Speaking to oneself was a common practice of The Family Store patronage. Those who didn’t do so, in fact, stood out. The interesting and unique thing that separated David Hauser from the pack was that he was a good listener in those one-sided conversations, a characteristic that made him an anomaly in a world of anomalies. There were times when David looked to the speaker whom no one else could see, but he reserved those shared glances with the speaker for the introductory portion of the speaker’s conversation. When the purported speaker’s dialogue progressed, David Hauser’s gaze then took on a diagonal slant, and it morphed into an outward glance, followed by an inward one that suggested he was contemplating what the other was saying. At times, David Hauser and the purported speaker said nothing at all.

Prior to David Hauser, I assumed that people who speak to themselves do so to fill a void. In a world of people with no listening skills, most intangible friends are excellent listeners. David Hauser filled that void, but he and his companion created other voids, what some might call seven-second lulls. At times, the lulls in those conversations ended with active-listening prompts on David’s part. This display suggested that the purported speaker ended the lull, and David’s listening prompts encouraged the speaker to continue. At other times, David stopped speaking abruptly, as if someone had interrupted him. Those elements deepened my already deep fascination with David Hauser. I knew the abuse I took for this would be brutal, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to know what this guy was saying.

“I have to know what he’s saying,” I told Paul.

I went on to inform Paul that my curiosity was based on comedic intrigue, but that was a ruse to cover for the fact that my need to know what David Hauser was saying grew into a full-blown obsession to understand something about humanity, something I didn’t think I could learn from my otherwise sheltered life of books. I needed to know if a person as incapacitated, as David Hauser appeared to be, speaks to himself to sort through internal difficulties, and if such an individual recognizes it for what it was on some level, or believe they are talking with someone else.

“For God’s sake,” Paul said. “Why?”

I’m don’t recall what I said at that point, but I know it was an attempt to defuse the situation, so Paul wouldn’t have material on me later, when it came time to mock me for my odd curiosity. I think I said, “I don’t know, I just do.”

I didn’t know what would’ve satisfied my curiosity. I didn’t know if I was searching for listening prompts or seeking the particular words that David Hauser would use to answer my questions. Is there a word that can inform another that a person genuinely believes another person is there? Is there a word, or series of words, that will inform an observer that a person has manifested another person to satisfy a psychological need? The latter was so far beyond my comprehension that I didn’t want to spend too much time thinking about it, but I figured David’s mannerisms, his tone, and the context of his active-listening prompts would somehow form a conclusion for me.

“Be careful,” Paul said.

The two words slipped out as if Paul was repeating a warning he received when he considered further investigation, and he focused his attention on me and said, “Be careful” again.

I was willing to accept these words of caution on the face of what they implied, at first, but my curiosity got the best of me.

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “What if he says something so intellectual that it gets trapped in your brain and you go insane trying to figure it out?”

“Could that happen?”

“How does a guy go insane by being too smart?”

Perhaps Paul was messing with me and my obsession kept me from seeing the joke, but it was just as probable that he believed it. We were both avid fans of the horror genre, and we were both irrational teenagers who still believed in various superstitions, black magic, curses, elements of dark art, and the supernatural. Our minds were just starting to grasp the complex, inner workings of the adult, real world, but we were still young enough to consider the childlike belief in the possibilities of how reality occurring under an altogether different premise.

Long story short, Paul’s attempts to warn me, followed by his questions, did set me back, and I did try to avoid the subject of David Hauser for a spell. I was not what one would call an intellectual young man. My curiosity was insatiable, and I was an observant sort, but tackling highbrow intellectual theory or highbrow literature was beyond me. I was ill equipped for that, ill-equipped, naïve, and vulnerable to the idea that a thought, like a corruptible woman bent on destroying, could leave a man incapacitated to a point that they frequent a low-rent liquor store for the rest of their days and speak to non-existent people.

I thought of the idea of an intellectual peak in the brief moment that followed Paul’s warning. It seemed like one of those foolish, rhetorical questions I ask that results in ridicule, but I found the question fascinating. If there was an intellectual peak, I figured that hadn’t even come close to mine at that point in my life, but I thought that I should work through the dynamics of it in the event that I ever brushed against that border. Will a person know when they’ve arrived at an intellectual peak? I wondered. Is there a maximum capacity one should be wary of crossing? If they do cross it, do they risk injury, similar to athletes who push themselves beyond the actual limits of their physical ability? I thought of a pole-vaulter, sticking a pole in the ground, attempting a jump he should have reconsidered and the resultant physical injuries that could follow.

When I put those irrational fears aside, other irrational fears replaced those, as I walked over to David Hauser. Paul’s “Be careful” played in my head, along with the realization that prior to building the courage to step near David Hauser my fear of him was speculative in nature. It dawned on me that all I did was brave my fears of an unknown quantity, I had no idea how I would deal with whatever reality lay ahead. His volume lowered a bit, as I neared his sphere of influence. I considered that a coincidence and I progressed, pretending to look at something outside the window behind him. As I neared closer, his volume dropped even more. I didn’t that was a coincidence, but I wasn’t sure. I wondered if he was trying to prevent me from hearing him.

Whatever the case, I couldn’t hear what he was saying, and I was more than a little relieved about that. I felt encouraged by the fact that I had neared him, even though I was afraid. I was wary of getting too close, because I feared the idea of having his overwhelming theories implanted in my brain. I assumed such an implantation might be equivalent to an alien putting a finger on a human head and introducing thoughts so far beyond that brain’s capacity that it could cause the victim to start shaking and drooling, like that kid in The Shining. I considered it plausible that I could wake in a straitjacket with that theory rattling around in my head, searching for answers, until I ended up screaming for a nurse to come in and provide me some relief in the form of unhealthy doses of chlorpromazine to release the pressure in my head.

I later learned that David Hauser achieved a doctorate in some subject, earned from some northeastern Ivy League school. That fact placed him so far above those trapped in this incarnation of hell, known as The Family Liquor Store, that I figured everyone involved needed a way to deal with his story, and everyone did love the story.

I wasn’t there when David Hauser told the story of what happened to him, so I don’t have primary source information of his fall from grace. The secondhand story of this once prominent man of such unimaginable abilities falling to a level of despair and failure was on the tip of the tongue of everyone that heard it. “Like that!” they said, with a snap of their fingers to punctuate the description. Bubbling beneath that surface fascination were unspoken fears, confusion, and concern that if it could happen to a guy “Like that!” it could happen to any of us. In place of traveling through a complex maze of theories and research findings to find the truth, there was an answer. No one knew who came up with it first, and no one questioned if that person knew what they were talking about. We just needed an answer, a coping mechanism.

The fact was that no one knew the undisputed truth of what really happened to David Hauser. We knew some truths, the ones he purportedly revealed, but he didn’t give us an answer, because he likely didn’t have one. My guess was that even if we could’ve convinced David Hauser to sit down in a clinical setting or create some sort of climate that would assure him that no one would use his answers to satisfy a perverse curiosity, we still wouldn’t get answers out of him, because he didn’t have any to offer.

The man who spent most of his life answering the most difficult questions anyone could throw at him reached a block, a wall, or some obstacle that prevented him from finding the one answer that could prove beneficial to his continued existence. His solution, therefore, was to talk it out with a certain, special no one for answers.

That led me to believe that the reason his volume dropped as I neared was a mixture of pain and embarrassment. If David Hauser’s mind was as complex as those in The Family Liquor Store suggested, and it was stuck on a question repeating in his head, to the point of needing to manifest another presence to help him work through it, how embarrassing would it be for such a man to have an eavesdropping teenager, that knew little to nothing about the world, find that answer for him?

I did have an answer for what happened to David Hauser, we all did, but I’m quite sure our answer didn’t come anywhere close to solving the actual question of how a man could fall so far. I’m quite sure it was nothing more than a comfortable alternative developed by us, for us, to try to resolve the complexities of such an intricate question that could’ve driven us insane “Like that!” if we tried to figure it out and it trapped itself in our brain.

If you enjoyed this piece, you might enjoy the other members of the seven strong:

The Thief’s Mentality

He Used to Have a Mohawk

That’s Me In the Corner

You Don’t Bring me Flowers Anymore!

… And Then There’s Todd

When Geese Attack!

Scorpio Man II: The Second Testimonial


My life has taken quite a turn, since last we spoke. I might continue to experience some unease when confronted with the dark shadow of my fixed, archetypal Scorpio male leanings, when the moon is in the north node of my chart, and people ask what Sun I was born under, but I now understand that this is due to years of patriarchal conditioning bred into my psyche.

Those of you who read the previous testimonial may deem me irretrievable, and I may be, but I am focusing all of my energy on progressing through the three totems of this Scorpio archetype. To suggest that I achieved evolvement, or that I’m progressing toward change, would be harmful to my progress, but suffice it to say that my wonderful Natural Psychologist, Ms. Maria Edgeworth, informs me that I’m more open to balancing my summer and winter now. “This is an accomplishment most associate with the Pisces,” she said, “and you’re moving closer to a center than any of the Scorpio Men I treat, who remain stuck in the first level of Scorpio Evolvement, the Scorpion totem.” That’s a direct quote, and I don’t mind posting my progress here. As someone once said, “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”

Yet, as I work my way through this, I am still going to lie about my archetype, as I said I would in my previous testimonial. I wish I didn’t have to do it, but I find that this temporary lie cleanses the palate for those who worry that Mars the god of war and Pluto the god of the underworld might still rule me, while I undergo intense Level 1 training to face my limitations in order to transmute and evolve passed them.

My hope is that we all find a way to move passed our prejudicial and unconscious displays of emotional security that take the form of a silent scream when we find ourselves trapped in enclosed spaces, such as an elevator, with a Scorpio Man. The act of lying about my essence is counterproductive to my therapy, of course, but it’s just so frustrating that I haven’t witnessed corresponding progress in others. I want to tell these people, these silent screamers, that I’m working on it, but that I’m not yet to the point where I can harness the discordant elements of my power. Until I’ve achieved that level of confidence, I decided to take the stairs.

The always-positive Ms. Edgeworth tells me there is hope, however, and that all of the expensive and intensive hours we put into these sessions to purge the limitations of my past and foster growth, will pay dividends in the form of spiritual fulfilment of my aura that will eventually become evident to all.

Ms. Edgeworth proclaimed that controlling the criminal element of the Scorpio Man is the most difficult aspect of Scorpio Evolvement, for those seeking to achieve the enlightenment found in the second stage of Scorpio Evolution, The Eagle Totem. “But you’ve made such great strides in this regard,” she said. “The idea that you’re spending so much of your free time around such a helpful soul, without giving in to the impulsive desire to harm her in all of the sadistic ways the Scorpio man is predisposed to, suggests that you may already be on the cusp of advancement.” Ms. Edgeworth added that she “thinks sexual congress with this woman may be an ideal method to metamorphose some of my limitations.”

That’s right! Scoop! I have a woman with whom I now spend my evenings. Her name is Faith Anderson, and she have been getting along quite well.

Faith told me that she was a Pisces on our first date. She said it while we were playing pool. I should’ve been suspicious, but I wasn’t until she sank a frozen to the rail cut shot, using a medium stroke in our very first game of eight ball. When she proceeded to sink several ninety-degree cut shots in the games that followed, I was totally onto her. I knew she was harboring secrets only a fellow Scorpio would. No Pisces could sink a frozen to the rail, cut shot, after calling it, and walk away as if nothing happened. I didn’t hold it against her though. I lied to her too. I told her I was a Virgo, so she couldn’t know that I have the same powers she does of detecting when people are playing mind games. She would later tell me that she was onto the fact that Mars the god of war, and Pluto the god of the underworld ruled my world too, the moment she caught wind of the articulate nature of my dark sense of humor.

As I stated in my previous testimonial, the pressure society places on Scorpio Men forces us to conceal our nature, but what I didn’t know until I met Faith is that women face some similar reactions. Perhaps it was my male need to protect a woman, but I was mad at no one in particular and everyone at the same time. I wanted people to feel ashamed that we scorpions felt the need to conceal our identity no matter how hard we’re working through our predispositions. I wanted to tell the people at the bar that night that this innocent and sweet woman felt the need to deceive them into believing something she’s not. “And do you want to know why?” I would’ve asked in a confrontational manner befitting such a launch. At that point, I would’ve asked them if they dined already, because my rant would’ve been so long I would’ve heard their belly gurgle long before I was done. Long story short, I identified with her need to lie to me and tell me she was a Pisces, until I came to know her better, and she felt comfortable disclosing her vulnerability. “I just wanted a chance,” she confessed when she finally opened up to me, “a non-discriminatory, judgment-free chance to find acceptance and love.”

“I know,” I said. “I know.”

Our connection was so strong that when Faith finally agreed to metamorphose my limitations, she did so saying, “As long as you continue to work with Ms. Edgeworth to confront your pre-existing limitations and make a commitment to grow passed them.”

“It’s as important to me as it is you Faith,” I said.

She relented, but I could tell she had misgivings. “You swear,” she said, stopping me in the moment. “This isn’t just talk? You swear to seek a balance between summer and winter, while acknowledging that you’re predisposed to cling to your blossoming previous life at the same time? We need you to interact with others to delve beneath the surface and prepare for a more spiritual and fertile future.”

I said, “I do,” to each of these questions.

“You can’t just rely on me,” she continued, “or even Ms. Edgeworth. You can’t become dependent on either of us to achieve the highest expression of Scorpio, beyond the Eagle Totem to The Phoenix Resurrected Stage, and don’t say I do to everything I say. These aren’t wedding vows.”

“You don’t need to worry about me Faith,” I said. “I’m striving to advance beyond all this.”

“I believe you are,” she said, holding my face in her hands. “I believe I’ve finally met a man who, like that mythical Phoenix, will rise from the nature of your being and overcome it all.”

It was a glorious moment in our relationship, but it didn’t last long. I don’t remember if it was the next day, or the next week, but we were fighting like cats and dogs. Imagine that, two people ruled by Mars the god of war and Pluto the god of the underworld fought. Ha! Our argument involved an incident in which I exited a packed movie theater aisle, to go to the bathroom, facing the people in the aisle.

“That was definitely a microagression,” she informed me. I said I didn’t know what a microagression was, and she explained the concept to me.

“Okay, how was exiting a movie theater aisle a microagression then?”

“You put your … front side to the people sitting in the aisle, and in such close quarters.”

“Front, back, what’s the difference?” I asked.

“You are, essentially, putting your maleness right in their face,” she said. There was some exasperation in her voice, as she saw that I would need further explanation. “You are essentially raping the space between you and them. It’s called hyper toxic masculinity.”

“But if I didn’t intend to do this-”

“Look up the term microagression,” she added, “and you’ll see the word ‘unintended’ listed as one of the first words in the definition.”

We went back and forth through various incarnations and details, but the import of it was that while she was a little disturbed by my action, she was “completely mortified” by my failure to acknowledge how my derogatory action was directed at people rooted in marginalized groups, and until I confronted my offense, we were “totally incompatible”.

The argument extended into the night, and it included an impenetrable silent treatment that ended with threat that I might never have my limitations metamorphosed again. I was confused. I knew Faith’s belief system, and even though I didn’t fall in lock step with them, I did my best to respect them. I was so confused that I brought the issue to Mrs. Edgeworth in our next session.

“Welcome to primacy of the secret intensity of Pluto’s bearing on the Scorpio archetype’s personality,” Ms. Edgeworth said when I detailed this argument for her.

“Pluto?” I said. “Don’t you mean Mars? Don’t you mean the fires of Mars?”

She laughed in a soft, polite pitch. “Most people think that,” she said. “I think that misconception is based on the fact that Pluto is a relatively new planet, dwarf planet –or whatever they’re calling it now– to us. I would not say that you, or anyone else for that matter, are wrong on this matter. I would just say that because we didn’t discover Pluto until the 20th century, it’s relatively new to our interiority, and we haven’t evolved our understanding of the quietly driving effect its strange elliptical orbit can have on a Scorpio, like Faith. It can alter the characteristics in a manner some call a manifestation magnet that acts in conjunction with the more consistent, more understood fires of Mars acting in a manner that when Pluto is in the Scorpio node two, and Saturn is in Scorpio 10, opposing the Taurus moon, and squaring Venus in Leo and Jupiter in Aquarius. The effects of this magnet can lead to a manifestation you may view as out of character reactions in the Scorpio archetype. Some may use this alignment against themselves and others, attracting destructive outcomes through hyper-awareness and obsessing on negative observances, but when two separate and distinct Scorpio archetypes begin interacting under the same manifestation magnet conjunction, it can lead to some intense energies that result in either the darkest shadows or the bravest, brightest lights.

“My advice,” Ms. Edgeworth continued. “Is try talking to her in a non-manipulative manner. Explore the dynamics of power and powerlessness in your relationship and coordinate those with your patterns of behavior, and her desire to invest future emotions in you. You may find that you’ve accidentally introduced the darkest aspects of the Scorpio archetype into your psyche that have manifested a situation of non-growth, and stagnation, which result in her lashing out in a manner that just happened to occur in the movie theater, but could’ve occurred just about anywhere on any matter of substance.

“If you can somehow tap into undistorted expressions of the matriarchy,” she continued. “To heal your relationship and connect to the healing process of absolute and undistorted femininity you two will achieve a plane above limitations and find deep communion with the higher levels of the Scorpio archetype that are full of healing, grace and compassion.

“It’s up to you of course,” she concluded. “But I have always found that the intense nature of the Scorpion archetype nature can be distorted and misunderstood, but beneath all that is a desire to get to the bottom of things, the real truth as it relates to the soul.”

Ms. Edgeworth was right, of course, as Faith agreed to work with me toward a greater understanding and a brighter future. I can tell you now that with their guidance, I have never been as happy, or as confused, as I am right now, but if there’s one thing to take from this testimonial let it be this: there’s no substitute for a well-informed partner providing a thorough, and subjective, reading of your charts. Not even a wonderful Natural Psychologist can provide such assistance in intensive and expensive, five-day-a-week, hour-long sessions. For those, like me, who spend so much of their time now struggling to understand their charts to escape the first totem, Scorpion level of the Scorpio archetype, who no longer have time for sports, sitcoms, or beer with the buddies, I have empathy. I will tell you, however, that I haven’t found a better method of achieving spiritual fulfilment, or your life’s goals, than sitting down with a partner who can help you find your individualistic method of transmuting passed your pre-existing limitations in a caring and non-manipulative manner.

That’s Me In the Corner


I never considered the possibility that I might be witnessing a physical manifestation of me –that speculative writers might call a doppelganger– dancing on the dance floor. I did not expect this kid to take to a corner, open up an NFL preview guide and eat an entire bag of soda crackers, while listening to the band Kiss. I don’t know what I would’ve done, if that happened, as I had already reached a frequency of thought I might never have reached on my own –thanks to that near impenetrable, crusted shell of good and bad memories that prevents, and protects, the human mind from seeing who we were when we weren’t paying attention– just watching the kid. By watching the kid, to the point of an unusual, momentary obsession, some part of me thought I might be able to answer some unanswered questions I had from my youth.

I wasn’t watching the kid at first. He was the bride’s son, from a previous marriage, and as distant from my attention as every other participant in the wedding ceremony. He did little to nothing to stand out, in other words, until he took to the dance floor.

“Look at the kid,” I heard some wedding patrons whispering to others. “Look at Kevin!” I heard others say. I was already watching him. I thought everyone was. How could one avoid it, I wondered, this kid was putting on a show.

There was a ‘something you don’t see every day’ element to this kid’s step that challenged the audience to look away. He didn’t look out into the audience, he didn’t smile, and he did not attempt to communicate with us in a manner I suspect a well-trained dancer might. There was, however, an element of showmanship in his step that should not have occurred in a normal nine-to-ten-year-old’s “conform as opposed to perform” step.

The kid’s shoulders dropped low in his dance step. I don’t know what this suggested exactly, but he did appear more comfortable on the floor than any of the other kids his age. His handclaps were also a little harder than the other kids were. I don’t know if it was the volume of Kevin’s claps, but the other kids appeared to be struggling to follow the beat, or his beat. His gyrations were so out of step with the rest of the participants that those of us not in the wedding party had trouble stifling our giggles. This kid was dancing.

“Who’s the kid?” I asked my uncle.

“That’s Kevin,” he said. “The bride’s son.”  His smile mirrored mine, and those of all of the whisperers watching.

After I asked that question, I realized I was one of those whispering and pointing at Kevin. My initial assumption was that everyone watched this kid in the same manner I was, with one bemused eyebrow raised, but the sheer volume of whisperers called to mind the first time I heard Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Some consider that album a masterpiece. Some called it Davis’ Sgt. Peppers. I liked it, but I wasn’t sure it was a masterpiece. The structure seemed so simple. I discovered its simplistic brilliance after repeated spins, but the point is I may not have listened to it a second time if group thought hadn’t conditioned me to believe that there was something I was missing out on.

It was this fear of missing out, FOMO in common parlance, that prompted to continue to watch this kid. I knew as little about dance as I did jazz, so I figured it was possible that I was missing something.

“Why are we watching this kid?” I asked my uncle.

“Because it’s cute.”

My Uncle gave me a look that informed me that we shouldn’t try to make more out of it than what it was. He then went back to watching the kid, and he even regained an appreciative smile after a spell.

There was no simplistic brilliance going on in this moment, in other words, it was just cute to watch a young boy carry on in a manner that suggested he knew what he was doing. The kid didn’t know how to dance, most nine-to-ten-year-old boys don’t, but the effort he put into it was cute.

Anyone that focused attention on the kid’s step –as opposed to the surprising amount of bravado he displayed by attempting to dance– knew that the kid didn’t know what he was doing. He had no rhythm, no choreography, and no regard for what others might think of the fact that he had no knowledge of the crucial elements of dance. The latter, I think, was the point, and it was the reason we were watching him.

My guess was that at some point, someone somewhere had informed him that free form dancing has no choreography to it. You just get out there, lower your shoulders a bunch of times, throw your arms about, pick your feet up, and jiggle every occasionally. It’s free form dancing. A trained chimp could do it.

When the kid made a beeline to his chair the moment this obligatory dance concluded –a dance I assumed his mother had forced him to participate in– I imagined that some people might have been shocked at the manner he exited. I laughed. I thought it added to the spectacle. I laughed loud, believing that those that laughed while he danced would share my laughter. They didn’t. I received confused looks from those around me. His beeline exit did not elicit shock, or any other response. They’d moved on. I tried to, but I was fixated on this kid.

Some may have characterized this kid’s exit as a statement regarding what he thought of the art of dance, but I didn’t think that captured it. I thought that a desire to watch how this party would unfold fueled this kid’s exit.

The kid’s exit suggested that he was one that preferred to watch. It was aggravating to those of us that watched his initial dance steps and thought he had something to offer to this otherwise routine wedding reception. He didn’t appear to be the least bit embarrassed by his performance, so why would he prefer to watch?   

Psychologists state that we have mirror neurons in our brain that seek enjoyment from another’s perspective, and that that enjoyment can be so comprehensive that we may reach a point where we convince ourselves that we’re the ones performing these actions. Others describe it as a frequency of thought, or a through line to a greater understanding of being: being funnier, more entertaining, and better in all the ways an insecure, young man thinks that his elders are better. Honing in on this frequency is something that TV watching, video game playing nine-to-ten-year-olds know well. It goes beyond the joy of watching others make fools of themselves, for entertainment purposes, to a belief that when watching better performers attempt to be entertaining, we’ve achieved that level ourselves without having to deal with all the messy details involved in the trials and errors to get to that point.

I knew, even while I was doing it, how odd others might find it that I was obsessing over the actions of a nine-to-ten-year-old boy, in such an innocuous moment of the boy’s life, and I attempted to look away several times. Every time a member of the party made some kind of misstep, however, this kid would draw my attention by laughing harder than anyone else would. My guess was that the relief that he wasn’t one of those in the position to commit such errors fueled that raucous laughter. This kid would laugh so hard at every joke that it was obvious he wanted to be louder than any others laughing.

“He’s attempting to cross over,” I thought.

“What’s that?” my uncle said.

“What?” I said. “Nothing.” 

My uncle’s ‘What’s that?’ is often characterized by a preceding pause. The pause suggests that either they know that you’re talking to yourself, and they’re looking to call you out on it, or they believed the comment was situational, until they chewed on it for a bit and realized they couldn’t place it.

Whatever the case was, I hadn’t intended for anyone to hear that thought. I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed, but I also wondered if I intended to think that aloud, so that I might have it on the record if it went down the way I thought it would.

What I would not tell my uncle, for fear of being deemed one that is far too interested in self-serving minutiae, was that this ‘cross over’ is the Houdini milk can of the observer’s world. It is an attempt to establish one’s self as a participant in the minds of all partygoers without participating.

The initial stages of a crossover are not a difficult to achieve. Anyone can shout out comments, or laugh in an obnoxious and raucous manner that gains attention. The crossover does require some discretion, however, for it can be overdone. When one overemphasizes an attempt, they could run the risk of receiving a “We know you were there. You wouldn’t shut up about it” comment. The perfect crossover calls for some comments and/or attention getting laughter interspersed in the emcee’s presentation to lay the groundwork for the stories the subject would later tell others regarding his participation.

“He knows what I’m talking about,” the groom, acting as the emcee of the event, said at one point. He was alluding to Kevin, and Kevin’s over-the-top laughter.

It would be almost impossible for me to know if this kid achieved a total crossover, for I had no familiarity with the family, and I would have no opportunity to hear the kid’s after-party stories. The kid did accomplish an excellent first step, however, thanks to a groom that, I assume, had spent the last couple years trying to have the kid accept him as an eventual stepfather.

The answer to why I was so obsessed with a 9-to-10-year-old crystallized soon after the groom’s comment. Kevin’s mother called upon Kevin for increased participation. The kid waved her off. He waved her off in the manner I waved off so many of my own calls for increased participation. It dawned on me that my preference for observation went so deep that it was less about fearing increased participation and more about a preference for watching others perform that was so entrenched that any attempts to have me do otherwise could become an obnoxious distraction.

That’s me in the corner I thought. That’s me in the spotlight, losing my sense of belonging.

“You were just integral to the party,” I wanted to shout out to that kid with such vigor that I would’ve revealed myself. “Why would you prefer to sit on the sidelines of your mother’s wedding?”

Could it be that this preference for observing has something to do with the idea that we’ve all been participants and observers in the audience at various points in our lives, and we’ve all witnessed this idea that those roles can somewhat interchangeable in people’s memories? Unless the participants are so over-the-top funny, entertaining, or in all other ways memorable, observers have can manipulate the memories of participants, if they know how to enhance their role as an astute observer.

When one is an athlete, for example, the members of the audience may cheer their athletic exploits in ways that display the pride they might feel through vicarious connections. When an athlete commits an error, or underperforms in any way, they may feel sorry for the athlete, but they won’t associate with them in any meaningful way. They may not disassociate themselves from the athlete, depending on the error, but the error allows them to believe that put in the same position as the athlete was at the time of the error, they would not have committed it. ‘All you had to do was catch the ball,’ is something they may say, ‘and it was hit right to you.’

Some may view the desire to view an activity, as opposed to partaking in it, as a bit of a cop out. It may have been a cop-out for this kid, just as it may have been for me, but I do have fond memories of various events that I refused to participate in, in the same manner this kid might have of his mother’s wedding. I laughed with my fellow party goers, as we all recalled those past events that took place with fondness, and I did offer funny anecdotes to those conversations, but my role was often limited to that of an observer. Actual participation in these events was the furthest thing from my mind.

If this kid shared as many traits with me, at nine-ten-years-old, my guess was that he was already documenting stories that he would retell for years. Some of these stories might involve slight exaggerations regarding his role in them, but my guess is that few listeners would have the temerity, or the memory, to dispute him. Some of his versions of the story may offer interesting insights, and if those little vignettes involve creative, entertaining nuggets, they might become a part of the narrative in a manner that listeners to join him in making the leaps of re-characterizing his actual involvement.

If this kid manages to accomplish this, and he gets so good at it that others start corroborating his version of other events, he may make the leap to an almost-unconscious discovery of a loophole in his interactions that provide him a future out on all requirements of participation.

If he already does this, on a conscious level, and his evolution is so complete that he’s already choosing vicarious participation over actual participation on a conscious level, then that is where the similarities end. I thought he was too young for all that however, but I did consider the idea that he might be slipping into an all too comfortable position where he is neglecting the importance of participation on purpose.

The problem that I foresaw for him, a problem I now see as a result of watching him act out a page in the first chapter of my autobiography, was that he was learning what to do and what not to do through observation alone. I considered this portal equivalent to the type of learning one can experience while watching too much TV and playing too many video games, with all the same vicarious thrills of victory and dissociative feelings of failure. I also thought that he would come to a point where he had problems learning the lessons, and making the vital connections, we only make by doing. If I had been in a position to advise this nine-to-ten-year-old of the lessons I’ve learned, but did not heed at his age, I would’ve shouted:

“Get back on the dance floor, kid! I don’t care if you were already out there. Get out there and do it. Then get out there and do it so often that you tailbone is on the line and you’re making an absolute fool out of yourself. Then, when that obnoxious observer steps up to laugh at you for making such a fool of yourself, you can turn on them and say, ‘At least I was out there. Doing it! What were you doing? Sitting on your can watching me!’”

If you enjoyed this piece, you might also enjoy the other members of the seven strong:

The Thief’s Mentality

He Used to Have a Mohawk (This is not a prequel to this piece, but it is another story that occurred in the same wedding.)

A Simplicity Trapped in a Complex Mind

You Don’t Bring me Flowers Anymore!

… And Then There’s Todd

When Geese Attack!

Anti-Anti-Consumer Art


I may be in the minority, but I prefer the work of angry, bitter artists who are unable or unwilling to adjust to cultural norms. If I deign to offer an artist my bourgeoisie, Skittle-eating, domestic beer-drinking, and modern TVwatching opinion on their artistic creation, and they don’t hit me with a red-faced, spittle-flying, “Your opinions are excrement!” rebuttal, I might begin to question if they have the artistic temperament I require of those who lack any other means of venting their rage on the world than through artistic creation.

If I am to view their art in a serious manner, they had better view me as a symbolic substitute for the America-loving, God-fearing, football fan of a father they had, the man who ruined everything they held dear in their youth. I want them to view me as a symbolic substitute for the art critic who deigned to call their work pedestrian, the fellow artist who told them, “You’ll never make it in the art world,” or the art teacher who advised, “You might want to seriously consider changing your major to economics.”

The path to artistic purity is different for every artist, of course, but for most true artists, the primary motivation is not to create pieces consumers enjoy. For the great majority, the struggle of artistic expression is to locate and expound upon their individualistic interpretation of nouns (people, places, and things). While the idea that others may share a love for their interpretations might be exciting and fulfilling, it is not why they feel the need to express themselves. Outside adulation is of secondary concern to them, but it is also gravy. Some, however, create complicated pieces of literature or other forms of art for the expressed purpose of airing their complications. For these artists, the loathing they harbor for the common man’s opinion is so complete that they’re often looking at something else before we can complete our second sentence. Even authors of bestsellers, writing for the sole purpose of writing a bestseller, will argue until they bleed that their intention was not to create something consumers love. “I just happened to accomplish that,” they might argue, as if popularity was an inadvertent side effect of the quality of their creation. No matter how much we might disagree, we really can’t blame them for if they state that they intended to create a product of mass appeal, few would consider them serious artists.

If a starving artist declares how much they love their fans in their artistic statement and they’re hoping to one day see their art exhibited in a New York City gallery, they may do well to avoid the heartache, and headaches, and just consider another profession. If they have that mindset, it might behoove them to try out for the Atlanta Falcons instead. The chances are probably better that they’ll make that team than any team of artists considered for an exhibit in a New York City art gallery. A true artist can say they value input from those who have experienced their work, but they must word these critiques in such a manner that adamantly avoids any form of fan appreciation.

The best chance an artist has for achieving a spot in a prestigious gallery is to condemn everything purported by the consumer standing before them. Their best bet, in fact, is to find an artistic method of denouncing everything everyone believes in, to generate and work from an anti-consumer theme.

The anti-consumer theme has a timeless quality about it, one that goes to the heart of the artist. Its provocative nature does not yield to pop culture winds. It is anti-pop culture and a hot ticket in any era that appreciates its artists.

Little old ladies, in a blatant attempt to appear young and hip, will walk up to an artist in these galleries and try to find some way to tell the artist they find the most disturbing pieces in their portfolio, “Wonderful”, “Amazing”, and “Wonderful and amazing!”

“You are so not my demographic,” a true artist of an anti-consumer piece of art might say in the wake of such comments coming from a little, old lady. A vehement rejection of this sort could enshrine the artist in the word-of-mouth halls of the art world, and their opportunity for such prestige might increase if they added some sort of exclamation to that rejection, such as a healthy stream of spittle dropped on the little old lady’s shoes.

Receiving a compliment from a little, old lady must put an anti-consumer artist in an awkward place. Most artists feel a reflexive warm glow rising whenever they receive a hard-earned compliment from anyone, but the non-conformist artist knows better than to concede to some display of it. The intention of their creation was to reject everything most consumers hold dear, its purpose was to disturb the little old ladies of the world, and its goal was to shake up her conformist mindset. To hear that such a woman allegedly gets the artist’s attempt to disavow and denounce her generation –the generation that the artist purports screwed us all up with their toys, and wars, and unattainable gender-specific imagery– must be vexing for the artist.

Thus, the best way to handle such a situation might be to spit on her shoes. An enterprising, young, anti-consumer artist might even want to create such a scenario in which such an opportunity will arise. They might want to use a found-footage, shaky cam method of capturing the scene for a publicity junket. The artist who pulls such a situation off might just become the talk of the town if she managed to pull it off.

“Did you hear what happened when some old bag complimented Janice on her anti-fifties piece?” other artists would say to one another. “She spit on her shoes.” If such an incident made it through the artist community grapevine, it could become part of the artist’s folklore.

Criticism from some remnant of the 1950’s would be the next-best reaction for the angst-ridden, bitter, angry, anti-conformist artist. “Good, it was meant to unsettle you,” the artist could say. “Its purpose was to cause you to reexamine all the harm your generation has caused us.”

If the patron is not of the fifties generation and they deign to criticize anti-consumer art, they might want to consider the idea that they might be part of the problem. The artist might instruct them to venture outdoors more often to find out what’s going on in the world, or they may want reexamine the full scope of the artist’s narrative. The sociopolitical theme of anti-consumerism invites and hopes to incite criticism, because it is immune to most criticism by its very nature. If that were true, why wouldn’t a curator want their gallery lined with anti-consumer pieces?

The anti-consumer artist doesn’t have to worry about using current products in their projects either, for an anti-consumer artist can employ whatever consumer-related products are necessary to denounce the ethos of an era. A pro-consumer piece does not have such allowances, for to try to create an artistic expression that professes an enjoyment of Superman cereal, the consumer must have some experience with Superman cereal, in order to relate to the theme. That piece will likely evoke little more than some elements of quaint nostalgia. If the artist is unwilling to include some underlying, angst-ridden subtext regarding all the ways in which eating Superman cereal created unrealistic expectations in the patron’s mind and thus messed up that patron’s childhood the artist can be sure the piece will not fetch the kind of price that a bitter, condemnation of being forced to ingest the cereal (and thus the ideals of Superman as well), will.

Is there a sliding scale on anti-consumerist statements? I’m sure many anti-consumer artists would love to know it. If their piece contains subtle, sophisticated irony in its anti-consumer theme, with an ironic twist, what kind of return can they expect for their time? Are vehement declarations of such themes more profitable? Does the price point increase in conjunction with bullet-point adherence to the sociopolitical, anti-consumer theme?

The amount of anti-consumer art for sale in a gallery can be overwhelming, for this has become the most consumer-related, rebellious, radical theme for starving artists to pursue. In fact, “What are you waiting for?” might be the question that fellow artists and curators have for those who hold out. They might even inform the holdouts that anti-consumer art has become the safest theme to explore for any artist that wants to have their work exhibited.

Curators don’t have to worry about fads or trends in the art world, for the very idea of fads and trends violate the anti-consumer artist’s tenets. All a curator has to do is rotate collections of anti-consumer art year round, and their gallery can exist in the radical, counterculture milieu 365 days a year.

How long have anti-consumer pieces held primo spots in top galleries around the nation? One would think the ubiquity of this anti-consumer theme in art galleries would invite a rebellion that would expose it as the market force it purports to detest. It would take a rebel willing to expose the counterculture in their work, regardless of how it affects their pocketbook, because the current art world would not view their work favorably.

As such, framing the concept of their piece would provide an obstacle for the rebel. The rebel would have to word their artistic statement carefully, for it would be career suicide to have their anti-anti-consumer art confused with pro-consumer art.

Grimace-e1414637657704

“Eat at McDonald’s”

“It says ‘Eat at McDonald’s,’” a curator might say with absolute disgust.

“Right on,” the anti-anti-consumer artist would reply. “It’s my attempt to highlight the stereotypical art of anti-consumerism. My portrayal of the McDonaldland character Grimace is used as a vehicle for the larger idea through which I attempt to explore the tendency our counterculture has to use social media and propaganda to prescribe narrow, contrived definitions of art to individuals and the nation.”

The hip, avant-garde patrons of an art gallery would be prone to view the anti-anti-consumer artist’s piece as a stab at consumerism that contains sophisticated irony. They might consider it quaint, hilarious, and an incredible salvo sent to consumers around the world, the people who really don’t get it.

If this anti-anti-consumer artist was available for a Q&A session, and the artist made the mistake of imploring their artistic friends to accept their anti-anti-consumer theme for what it is, the hip, avant-garde smiles would likely flatten. Some might consider the piece obnoxious, and they might even consider the anti-anti-consumer artist a whore for corporate America.

“I just want to celebrate the history and tradition of the McDonaldland character Grimace,” the anti-anti-consumer artist’s intro would be. “My painting is an effort to explore all the joy and happiness Grimace has brought to so many lives.”

“Is that sophisticated irony?” the patrons would ask.

“No. It’s an anti-anti-consumer theme that I am attempting to explore here.”

“So it’s … a pro-consumer statement?” one of the more obnoxious patrons might say to intrude upon the artist’s pitch.

“Good God, no!” the artist must respond, if they hope to generate the amount of interest that might result in a sale.

If the anti-anti-consumer artist has the artistic temperament of one who doesn’t care about the sale, however, and they’re able to maintain focus on the artistic theme, they might have to engage in a substantial back-and-forth with the patrons of their piece before they conclude that the artist isn’t putting them on or being obnoxious.

As stated earlier, being obnoxious in an anti-consumer theme is not just acceptable it’s expected. Stubbornly pursuing an anti-anti-consumer stance, however, will cause others to deem the artist obnoxious and pro-consumer.

Thus, attracting patrons to the anti-anti-consumer exhibit would not even represent the beginning of the artist’s problems, as no self-respecting curator would deign to display their work. I’m guessing most curators aren’t bad people, and they might even have some sympathy for this anti-anti-consumer artist’s frustrations. If the curator’s knowledge of the industry was such that they knew enough about it to be objective, they would probably sit the artist down to inform them of the inner workings of the industry.

“I know you are a passionate artist,” the curator might say, “but you really should reconsider this whole anti-anti-consumer theme. I know you built it to counter the counter, but you should know that this will not play well over the long haul. If you want serious cachet in the art world, there are two genres to consider. These genres include art built on an anti-consumerism theme and the anti-consumer works that are vehement in their theme. I suggest you drop this whole anti-anti-consumer artistic statement and make it known that your work contains a subtle, sophisticated irony with an anti-consumer twist, if you ever hope to sell anything.”

If the anti-anti-consumer artist somehow managed to achieve some degree of success with their theme, they would likely become the scourge of the art world. At some point, fellow artists would also approach the artist, as a coalition of condemnation for the audacity of the anti-anti-consumer theme. “You’re ruining this for all of us. Why would you do this to us? What do you think you’re doing?”

The anti-anti-consumer artist should look them in the eye and ask, “Is that subtle, sophisticated irony?”