Enter the NEA.

I proposed a performance piece. Tentatively titled (one must remember that the true artist’s medium is in constant and irrevocable flux) “Deus ex Cogitatum:?,” the piece chronicled, in real time, the completion of a scientific study by an investigator working under an NSF grant. It was intended to be a scathing commentary on the futility of scientific inquiry, when faced with the eternal mystery of l’art. In order to convince the funding committees at the NEA to accept my proposal, I spent the better part of an afternoon assuring the members, over lukewarm toddies and oyster crackers, that my work would remain untainted by the hammer and chisel of science.

“I will expose science as the nagging housefrau it has become,” I offered.

“How will your piece express? Will it live? How will its meaning affect its Meaning?” they wondered.

“Even the most explicit components of my work are rife with subtext. Beneath the façade of direct statement lies the implication, the obscure, and that which may be seen only from the side, and then only with one’s bad eye.”

They seemed convinced, especially after I raised my left eyebrow in a manner which could only mean, “Even my statements about subtext are so riddled with things left unsaid that if spoken in passing, they would dissolve like a tablespoon of smoke.”

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