Homeschool Report #2: Stupidist Art Criticism in the Age of Quarantine

Good morning, students. I would like to welcome you to the first Art History and Criticism course ever offered at Paradise University, the online extension of the Paradise Homeschool in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This morning, we welcome one artist whose creative, musical, and literary works are exemplary of the period known as Contemporary Stupidism. Please put away your devices, take out your pencils and notebooks, and let's give a warm welcome to our guest lecturer today, Professor Eve Lindsay.

[Cue: the sound of one hand clapping]

Thank you so much. I'm honored to be here this morning.

The Modern Met writes that "throughout an artist’s lifetime, changes in approach, subject matter, and even style are to be expected." As examples of this, critics cite the distinct creative periods of artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso. My own work, too, can be divided into two distinct periods. The first period, called Early Stupidism, covers my entire body of thought up until about six minutes ago, and the second period, Contemporary Stupidism, covers everything from right about now until two seconds after I click the Publish button, when I recognize that my essay is too long, filled with run-on sentences, and likely has insulted at least twelve people I like very much and have to face every day at work for the next ten years.

Contemporary Stupidism envelops all the elements of Early Stupidism, but is marked by its tendency to repeat these critical elements and behaviors, once more with feeling! Readers: Since it's almost the third paragraph, let me just get around to my whole point, as fine writers everywhere insist that every good story begins well into one's essay. (For students who are just tuning in: that's a lie.)

My point today: My Dad was smarter than I realized. Many times during Early Stupidism (that is, my entire life up until about six minutes ago), I would complain about how my Dad would spend plenty of time with me, but only doing the things he wanted to do, and maybe he should have actually focused on what I wanted to do. For example, he taught me to ride a motorcycle, took me snowmobiling in the woods and mountains of northern Maine, fishing on the quiet ponds of Myles Standish State Forest, and walking in the orange-pine barrens behind a local middle school. Can you imagine the horror I felt, that I, as a young artist, was torn away to do these things when I just wanted to make Snoopies out of Styrofoam cups at my friend's craft table? Clearly, mine was a life of abuse and neglect driven by a narcissist father.  (For listeners who are just tuning in, that's also a lie.)

You can see in this example that Contemporary Stupidism is marked by its nod to elements of stupidity in the past, though its central practitioners incorporate this historicism into their contemporary work, rather than leaving these elements behind. Some critics have wanted to mark this evolution in thought and embrace of the past within the present by referring to Contemporary Stupidism as "The New Enlightenment" for its elements of individualism and skepticism. However, over and over they have been confounded to discover that key elements of what historians term "enlightenment" are missing from Contemporary Stupidist works, among them reason and any sense of reverence whatsoever. What Contemporary Stupidist artists instead do is throw reason to the wind and let their audience lead the subject matter, to ensure that the work reaches its fullest, stupidest expression. The results are subject to much critical speculation and academic hand-wringing.

To more fully understand the experience of artists in Contemporary Stupidism, it is helpful to understand the work of their students. In analyzing student works, one can expose the elements that Contemporary Stupidist artists have prioritized in their teachings, and thus have deemed most important. Such analysis can also help us better characterize the changes in approach, subject matter, and style that will mark this new era of creative endeavor. Two works shall suffice for our analysis this morning, such as it is 4 am.

First, an infographic created by young apprentice Little Lord Fauntleroy, below left. This piece is an exploration of meaning and essence in modern language, as much a linguistic exploration as it is artistic and expressive. This piece is entitled "The Many Uses of the Phrase 'Excuse Me.'" For brevity's sake (as it is my forte), I shall provide only a captioned illustration here. (Full white paper is available upon request. 

Students, let's pause a moment for a Turn and Talk. With your neighbor, please analyze elements of Contemporary Stupidism in this illustration, and evaluate whether in Stupidist Homeschooling, it is an effective educational technique to let the student lead the subject choice. Be sure to cite specific examples of language, expression, and artistic gesture in your evaluation. When you have completed your discussion, work together to outline your responses in the style of Contemporary Stupidism; that is, create a brief 40,000-word essay and submit it at the conclusion of Quarantine 2020. Submit your answer via text; only SMS responses will be accepted. Be sure to include every single person you know in group thread so that they can all reply with the Contemporary Stupidist response: "K!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"