In which we revisit the towers of academia, the intellectual boiler-room of contemporary art and various lamentations from the pages of the Guardian.
In January we marvelled at the inventive ways in which the Arts Council sets fire to our earnings:
One might have thought that buskers got their money from passers-by, depending on whether or not they were any good. Apparently, it is much more sensible to take money from taxpayers and simply hand it over.
Our ongoing series of agonised tweets illustrated the rich spectrum of leftist emoting. From sadness and bewilderment to self-satisfaction, determined righteousness and a tearful longing for “uncomplicated anger.” We also met a student named Arun Smith, a radical saviour of the hypothetically downtrodden, who showed us just how complicated - and dishonest - anger can be:
Despite his extensive commentary on the subject, Mr Smith still hasn’t specified any actual remark that offended him sufficiently to vandalise the free speech wall then boast about it online. Regardless of its content, the free speech wall is, we’re told, “an act of violence.” A “microaggression.” And so Mr Smith feels obliged and entitled to retaliate, in order to pre-empt any hate (as defined by him) that might potentially occur at some point in the future. A line of moral reasoning that’s rather bold and which gives our saviour enormous scope for “forceful resistance” against almost anything he doesn’t like, even if it hasn’t happened yet.
March was of course the month of The Incident, a “level 3” violation of school behaviour, following which a classroom of seven-year-olds were urged to “share their feelings” about a partly-chewed pastry. Other highlights included students at the University of Tennessee being enlightened by a lesbian bondage expert, a reminder of the wickedness that is racist hair, and further evidence of the Arts Council’s discernment and competence. Qualities best illustrated by the £60 million West Bromwich arts centre, which promised to “make the arts more accessible” and two years after opening had failed to attract a single paying customer.
In April Martin Durkin aired an excellent documentary in which he made full use of his right eyebrow. There was also a breakthrough in eco-friendly parenting, and we beheld the theatrical stylings of Bulgarian performance artist Mr Ivo Dimchev.
May provided several insights into the psychology of socialism. First, we sampled the modesty of Mr George Monbiot, a man whose vision and wisdom we simply don’t deserve. And who dismisses his political opponents as dullard conservatives struggling with “low intelligence” and racial phobias. “Liberals,” we were told, by which George means leftists, are apparently “self-deprecating” and “too liberal for their own good.” Days later, his Guardian colleague Michele Hanson seethed indignantly regardless of the facts and wished fear and misery on people she doesn’t know. For cultural nourishment we turned to the Australian artist Mikala Dwyer, whose two-hour performance piece – “a wonderful, powerful work” – featured six naked dancers shitting onstage.
In June we explored the redefinition of ‘harassment’ and the selective uptightness of our academic betters. A gathering of unhappy Marxists stressed the importance of humility, while wanting to “break the government” and remake the world in their own image. And Godfrey Moase planned to liberate his creativity and “make employment optional” by screwing the taxpayer for everything he needs:
“Submission to a corporation,” we’re told, “will not be mandatory for your survival on Earth.” Though leeching indefinitely on the skills and effort of others – who will be forced to submit to him - will be perfectly okay, apparently.
In July we revisited the Vienna International Dance Festival, where Mr Ivo Dimchev once again transgressed something or other and gyrated in his panties. July also brought us the insoluble sorrows of pretentious racial guilt, the patriarchal horrors of the working class barbecue, and the joys of progressive parenting. Specifically, we learned that the “diffusion” of the family unit – which is to say, absent fathers, hardship and dependence on the state – “is one of the most exciting things to happen to the American social pattern since sexual liberation.”
The heroic stoicism of Ms Icess Fernandez Rojas was a highlight of August, especially her struggle to “celebrate [her] uniqueness” despite the crushing injustice of a mislabelled coffee cup. Our world was further embiggened by fellow Guardian contributors Owen Hatherley and Sophie Heawood, one of whom urged us to share a toilet with people we may not like and thereby “look beyond our obsession with private space,” while the other aired her ruminations on the feminist implications of juvenile bowel movements. And let’s not forget the equally pious Guardianistas Robert and Edward Skidelsky, who want the state to make “us” embrace “less acquisitive modes of living” by removing temptation from the lower orders:
What’s good for us, apparently, is not earning more than Mr Skidesky deems “enough.” It seems we shouldn’t want to travel the world, as Mr Skidelsky does, or sunbathe by the pool at the Caracas Hilton, as Mr Skidelsky did, or own a house as comfortable and spacious as his. “Keynes never owned a house in his life,” says he, “neither for that matter did Virginia Woolf.” And so why should we, the little people? Mr Skidelsky imagines his inferiors “living good lives, surrounding themselves with beauty.” It’s just that he’d rather we didn’t get to own much of it, or have enough money to make more of it happen. Utopia, you see, will “require some restriction.”
In October the Guardian’s Matt Seaton raged against cupcakes, which are apparently exploitative and mentally crippling, at least to womenfolk. Various tweeted agonies continued to pile up. And the Argentine artist Leandro Granato unveiled “a new form of expression,” a new vehicle for his feelings - squirting paint out of his eyes.
The need of Guardian columnists to rage against the innocuous and trivial was confirmed again in November when feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez took vehement exception to vaginal deodorant, while the writer and artist Charles Firth railed against the indignity of not being given money he hadn’t actually earned. Elsewhere, Californian grad school intellectuals protested against the “microaggressions” of corrected punctuation and having their leftwing politics questioned in class.
And in December we had to make do with the activist virtues of wild exaggeration and outright fabrication, the hallucinated heroism of student “occupiers,” and the subtle, self-effacing art of Ms Casey Jenkins – Australia’s foremost exponent of vaginal knitting.
So. Something for everyone, I think. Roll on 2014.