|Cover for Valiant's Shadowman. Big thanks to editor Josh Johns for giving me the shot.|
So...I passed my Oral Thesis Defense yesterday. It went fairly smooth. Aside from having some format issues with my paper which are easily cleared up, I am done with this madness. I don't feel much different. My ego is still manageable and my capacity for logic, reasoning and objectivity are still in tact. My pay certainly hasn't increased. I set this goal for myself 15 years ago and probably took the longest road possible to get to it. Its here now...so what.
I'm not sure where you are at in your life, but if you are not yet in college, or if you are currently in college, let me tell you the most important thing I have learned from my recent experience.
You need life experience to draw inspiration and drive from and you can't fake it by immersing yourself in a philosophy or ideology. I saw too much of that while I was back in Art School and I came to hate it more than anything. The academy is made up of too many petulant pseudo-intellectuals who have grown up with everything they've every needed or wanted and been sheltered from the cruelties and unfairness of this world. They never wanted for money, never worked a job they hated, never sweated or nursed a serious injury from a job they were doing. Life was a series of steps for them, grade school, high school, college, grad school, and then back to the academy to surround themselves with people who think just like they do. As an undergrad, they will subjectively preach their philosophy to you and if you buy into it, you will be rewarded with their extra attention, and perhaps if you are really lucky, a good job or a pat on the back. Reject it and you will be ignored, minimalized or even penalized. Challenge their belief system and they will excoriate you, level penalties and slow your progress.
The thing is, that if you buy into these philosophies, having never really experienced the things they were started to combat, you'll be posing. And you'll spend a lot of time talking about it, and making art about it, and when you get the chance to show everyone that you subscribe to this philosophy, you'll shout louder and longer than anyone else hoping that they will perceive you as enlightened and sophisticated and complex. But I don't really think they will. In fact, I have a really hard time taking people like this seriously. All their talk and defending and spouting of hypotheticals is just a bunch of intellectual masturbation. They are jokes and clichés and just empty posers, with no real thoughts of their own, desperately afraid of being discovered for the frauds that they really are.
I have nothing against people who lead these charmed lives. It' the natural order of things, but humility is a virtue, as is the ability to be objective about something. If this thesis work I have recently done is about anything, it is about the ability to be objective.
That's what I have learned for all my trouble, and it's worth every penny I paid for my degree. A post-modern society challenges any and all authority, and it should rightly do so because in its wake, so much authority rests in the hands of people like I just described. But it ended up that way because we embraced Post-Modernism in the first place. We defied objectivity and instead replaced it with relativity. We lowered our standards for what is good and valuable and excellent and replaced with the maintenance of self-esteem. It was poor trade.
I don't know...maybe you disagree and I am just bitter. Would love to hear what you think.
We'll be getting back to our regularly scheduled program shortly.