As an artist, it is your responsibility to mirror society at large, raise thought-provoking questions, and mess with the self-satisfied minds of those thinking they’ve got it figured out. This great honor and responsibility comes as quite a shock to many new artists who have entered the philosophical and political arena unarmed. In dire situations, young art students may even be asked to think critically about weighty subjects. Are religious fundamentalists short-sighted hypocrites looking for easy answers? Are moral relativists fool-hardy lushes who use the non-existence of God as an excuse to be irresponsible? How fascist is America?
Many students enter a great debate finding that they never assessed a situation before because it required too much tact or consideration. At this point, one may choose to reserve judgment. This is fatal. For any artist to be taken seriously, they must project an image of total self-assurance, even to the point of narcissistic obstinacy. In the written form, this is easy to fake. Any frail-voiced artist can sound as emphatic as Michael Moore to an SAIC instructor by simple linguistic evasions. Simply extract lyrics from a pop song conveying the type of confidence that you wish to feign and sprinkle it throughout your essay. The generational gap between pupil and student will protect you from being a plagiarizer of poetry if the song lyrics are recent enough.
You can avoid ever taking a real position on anything, provided you have enough generalized exuberance. A safe way to sound poignant without actually making a point is to convince your instructor that you will rock politics like a hurricane, or that if a problem comes along, you will assuredly whip it and whip it good.
If you are unfamiliar with appropriate rock lyrics, it is critical that you divert the attention away from your neutrality with nostalgia. Begin writing your essays in an archaic language. Dead vocabulary from 15th and 16th century Europe naturally gives any debate a sense of 75 percent more chivalry and 33 percent more piety. In addition, many full-time professors will become nostalgic upon hearing dialogue from the dark ages. Make note that you too long for the glory days of medi cine, when mercury was still quicksilver, the cure to all ailments, and when bloodletting was the best remedy for a cold.
What to do when your passion lies in trivial or forgettable topics
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your peers are empathetic to your mundane loneliness or trite anxiety. Plus, they will undoubtedly be uninterested in how corporate America and media conglomerates are stifling your creative efforts. Most art students are only stimulated by new and enticing concepts. To snag the attention of fellow students or art critics, it is recommended that you take existing emotions and present them out of context. To do this you will need to become an astronaut.
It is important to not only dress up as an astronaut, but to become an astronaut. Since dressing up as an astronaut is inherently foolish, it is imperative that you never take off your suit for as long as you attend art school. You will live perpetually as a being that just returned from the constellations. As an astronaut, your whiny complaining will become an expression of pure odyssey. An astronaut is the ultimate “fish out of water,” commanding an immeasurable amount of attention and respect. An astronaut’s experiences are celestial-they feel cosmic isolation amidst a nebula—of the galactically insensitive. An astronaut’s brain is a nova of burning genius. They have constellations of independent, interconnected thoughts suspended in the harsh vacuum of their minds. You will notice that the conceptual frame you inhabited as a mere art student has become fortified.
Other, yet trickier roles to become are that of the time traveler (whose brief but uncanny experience of becoming unstuck in the linearity of time has forever altered your worldly perceptions), the Castoridae-child (whose upbringing by a pack of kindly beavers gave you that unique insight that comes from growing up as one of the largest North American rodents), or the scam artist (who lives among art students and attends classes like an art student, but is only pretending to be an art student).