Saturday, February 26, 2011

Aganist my Better Judgment

In one of my favorite movies, a young Marlon Brando is heard to say: "Daddy, I've got cider in my ear." 

He says this after accepting a sucker bet.  And though I haven't recently agreed to a wager, I'm starting to hear something swishing around near my tympanic membrane.  Against my better judgment, I've agreed to do something rather foolish.  Let me explain.

Several weeks back, I received an email from a fellow who works at the Seattle Art Museum.  They had a new exhibit coming up, and were looking for local people to lead what they refer to as "Highly Opinionated Public Tours."  The email asked me (TSMK, that is, not my day-to-day persona) to consider leading one of those tours.  

To truly grasp the chaos that erupted in my frontal lobes, a bit of armchair psychology is probably in order.

As you may have noticed, I blog.  And, in my opinion, unless blogging is conducted for purposes of communicating important messages or improving humanity, it is an exercise in narcissism.  It is navel-gazing with a microscope and a megaphone.  I've given this some thought, and believe the pantheon of egomaniacal behavior may be delineated as follows:

Now, suppose you're a blogger and a lawyer.  And you've been ordained over the Internet and occasionally refer to yourself not only as "The Reverend" but as "The Right Reverend."  And further suppose that you're the kind of person who will knit lace anywhere and everywhere, including in public.  You're not exactly working in a leper colony, now are you?

Coming from this perspective, its hard to decline when you're asked to do something where you're going to be effectively on a stage.  My first instinct was to jump at the chance.

But shortly after, self-doubt inserted its fingers into the nostrils of my subconscious and began to pull. 

What if I agreed to participate, but I was really boring?  What if I bombed?  What if people noticed that I know essentially nothing about art?  Worse yet, what if nobody bothered to attend?  It is one thing to do something poorly, its another thing entirely to go unnoticed.  Oscar Wilde was right - the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.   

The battle raged. 

I mentioned the opportunity to a few close friends.  Their response was unanimous; this was something I must do.  But then, cracks began to form in their facade.  One suggested I would likely go from piece to piece within the museum, making increasingly negative remarks until my tour culminated with a six-word indictment of one particular work: "That is a piece of [excrement]."   Clearly, my friends were having a laugh at the suggestion that I might be considered highly opinionated.  And they hadn't even seen the PEGB.

Still, the battle raged.

As my psyche cartwheeled from argument to argument, I started to notice something.  I do, on obviously very rare occasions, find myself having thoughts which could be considered highly opinionated.  Of course, this requires one to adopt tremendously strained definitions of both "highly" and "opinionated."  But still, it is conceivable that one might make such an argument.  Of course, if I met that person I would probably try to dissaude him or her from such an obviously flawed worldview, but then again that too might be considered the response of a highly opinionated person.  There was no way out of this conundrum.

And so, I have agreed to do this.  If you're in Seattle on March 11 and looking for something to do in the evening, please give some thought to stopping by SAM and taking in a tour of the new Nick Cave exhibition.  It looks really interesting - and even involves crocheted doilies incorporated into clothing.  If you're there at 8:30, perhaps we'll meet.  If you're patient and I'm extremely lucky, I might even think of something clever to say.  I just hope I can form an opinion.


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