Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Wife Saves My Job

A WBC member picketing the memorial of the Sag...Image via WikipediaI had thought I might show this to my arts reviewing and reporting class when first we meet and then do a little in-class reviewing exercise. I mean, I've already put it on my blog. It's just a bit of drollery, right?

I was going to preface it with comments to the effect that one of the tasks of the reviewer is to confront things that offend or disturb and to bring back information from such a confrontation. The most interesting judgments are probably those that arise from being offended and unsettled because those drive us back to our deepest values and our fundamental assumptions about the power of art.

How does art, or an attempt at art, shape its audience? That is really the objection to most things we dislike at a visceral level, the fear of infection. Of course, we can handle it, but what about the fools and the children? It's a legitimate question, and I have my own taboos, and there are certain things that I will never justify in the name of free expression.

(Ancillary question: What would make you walk out or walk away from a performance or presentation? Boredom? Indignation? Contempt for artlessness?)

Still, I would like to find something I could present to my class that would unsettle them just a little, just enough, and then ask them to review it. But I don't want to make trouble for myself, not at my age. I'm tenured, of course, and one of those three-drink jokes tenured folk sometimes engage in is throwing out just what action could get one's tenure revoked. The thing linked to above is certainly 100 percent not it. Indeed, 10 bucks will get you one that no student would be truly offended, much less complain about it. Students are always being amused at my spinterish delicacies. No, it would be okay.

But who needs the tsuris at my age with my mortgage? And my wife would just say I told you so.

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david silver said...

i hear ya but why take the first class to try to offend/discomfort them?

what about first introducing them to WHAT A REVIEW IS and then later (second week? third week?) push their comfort levels?

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I'm only alive when I'm on the edge, daring it all on one mad throw of the dice.

Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai "Ngaje Ngai," the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.