Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
There is an 8-pack of Duracell AA batteries on my desk right now, unopened, most of them destined for the controllers of our Wii. Duracell AA Ultra Advanced, which means they will apparently last 30% longer and which also means they come with that handy “Powercheck” press test that shows you how much juice remains in the battery.
I look at my arms and wonder if there might be something similar on me, something that I don’t know how to read, something that allows me to check my own levels, for whatever abstract internal concept needs assessment. Press here and here to find out how much anxiety you’re carrying. Press here and here to determine how little patience you have left. Etcetera.
“Level” is a word that means both “to target” and “to calm down,” and I need to do the former in order for the latter to occur.
The level of my tolerance has dwindled, I am sure, in direct proportion to the level of my frustration, but the level of my desperation has not yet exceeded the critical limit at which my principles begin to bleed away. In the past month I have run across opportunities, many of them paying opportunities, to help undergraduate and graduate students by writing their essays for them. One such opportunity involved a sort of ad hoc agency, one of many available at the mere click of a button.
I think of the graduate student with the confident Craigslist ad, turning in my work as their own, turning in somebody else’s work as their own, shelling out a few extra thousand dollars over the course of a few years to buy an advanced degree in a discipline they couldn’t be bothered to simply learn. I think of them hitting the job market with their new credentials and I ask myself why it is that I consider the money to be worth the incompetence they will exhibit doing a job I couldn’t ever apply for. I think of editing jobs I’ve held that became rewriting jobs. I think of my professor friends with their stream of plagiarism cases. I think of the culture of George W. Bush, of Michael Brown, of Sarah Palin, people woefully and almost proudly underqualified for immensely powerful positions venerated for their “common touch” and their “anti-intellectualism” as if intellect were something that couldn’t and shouldn’t be common. I think about these common anti-intellectuals telling me that the reason I don’t have a job is simply because I refuse to work.
I feel spite; a malignant and lingering spite. I hate the spite in myself only slightly less than I hate myself for entertaining the notion of taking these jobs on at all, instead of sending angry red screaming klaxon letters stating that YOU ARE HURTING AMERICA even though I believe it with the very fiber of my being.
It wouldn’t do any good to send such letters. They would be ignored, somebody after me will accept the offer, and I’m the idiot, it turns out, for not jumping on it first.
This is the current level of my indignance. Check back in a few months; everybody has a breaking point.