Friday, May 18, 2007


Friday, I formally become a MASTER of Fine Arts. Heh. "Now I am the master." I suppose that makes me even more qualified to author a blog called Real Art, but whatever; anyone can be an artist. Anyway, it's time to re-run the commencement address I wrote for a mask assignment during my first year up here at LSU. Details on how the speech came to be here. I'm also embedding the Beatles video for "All You Need Is Love," which needs to play during the speech. Ideally, you should simply push play, and then read the text below.

Here goes:


President Griswold, members of the faculty, graduates and their families, ladies and gentlemen:

Let me begin by expressing my appreciation for the very deep honor which you have conferred upon me. As General de Gaulle occasionally acknowledges America to be the daughter of Europe, so I am pleased to come to Yale, the daughter of Harvard. It might be said now that I have the best of both worlds, a Harvard education and a Yale degree.

To be popular one must be a mediocrity.

It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

There's nothing you can do that can't be done. Nothing you can sing that can't be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It's easy. There's nothing you can make that can't be made. No one you can save that can't be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time. It's easy. There's nothing you can know that isn't known. Nothing you can see that isn't shown. Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor's finger.

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the ones who'll decide where to go. Life is too important to be taken seriously.

All you need is love.

From the book of Matthew:

"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

But question authority. Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious. Take, say, the core of the established religions today: the Bible. It is basically polytheistic, with the warrior God demanding of his chosen people that they not worship the other Gods and destroy those who do -- in an extremely brutal way, in fact. It would be hard to find a more genocidal text in the literary canon, or a more violent and destructive character than the God who was to be worshipped.

Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing -- fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things.

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. And so I am a deeply superficial person.

From the book of Ecclesiastes:

"The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit."

I have known them all already, known them all, have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons; I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, and I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, and in short, I was afraid. I have dared disturb the universe. I have prayed to God, but God is dead. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

This is the end. My only friend, the end, of our elaborate plans, the end, of everything that stands, the end, no safety or surprise, the end. I'll never look into your eyes...again. The end of laughter and soft lies. The end of nights we tried to die.

This is the end.

Hooray! I'm a Master of Fine Arts!

Time to re-start my life...