Wednesday, March 18, 2015


The three stages of brain explosion, 
set to lyrics from Kanye's Graduation

I. The brain explodes. 
My brain explodes. Over the course of a few seconds, it is jarred and slapped into shards of confusion and criticism at the sight of "Kanye West," "honorary doctorate," and "School of the Art Institute" in the same sentence.

La-da-da da-da da-da da-da da-da da
-Drunk and Hot Girls, Graduation

As per the news this morning, Yeezy will receive an honorary doctorate at SAIC's commencement ceremony May 11. There are a lot of different opinions lolly-gagging around the web, from an alum's notion that Kanye's "cockiness may in fact be his greatest work of art" to a loss of respect for the art school to a brilliant and deeply funny challenge from Chicago-based artist Rosalia Marzullo asking Kanye to allow that his PhD be baked into a cake.

My initial reaction probably comes from the fact that I loved (not at first, but definitely later) going to SAIC for a curious thing called arts journalism. My writing aesthetic and questionable view that art should be "pretty" and should be "pretty moving" were twisted into a more open and loving embrace of the weirdness of art becoming imperative lessons, riotous shouts for justice, and/or hilarious ways to look at the endearing derpy-ness of humanity. So, I did brush shoulders with some of the same people from whom Kanye will be handed this honor, and initially, I was appalled that this school--its lessons and location having changed my life for the better--would honor someone that SO OFFENDS with his abrasive swagger.

II. Shard rager commences.
Seconds become hours in the brain shard world, and the shards enter with the breeze into something I equate to a weird, racy rager I attended once in the early Chicago morning. Shards upon shards discovering the funky chicken, two-step, break dance, Step Up-esque slo-mo in the orange glow of the street lights flowing in through the upstairs window. Shards confused and appalled and blissful at the same time.

Do you even remember what the issue is?
You just tryin' to find where the tissue is
You can still be who you wish you is
It ain't happen yet and that's what the intuition is
- I Wonder, Graduation

Speaking of his abrasive swagger, can you deny that the mystification caused by Kanye's lyrics, performances, "artist" persona, and imagined private life makes him one of the most interesting people in the world? Maybe his rudeness is making us think about how we shouldn't be rude. His coddling of his own cockiness can really make one think about how being cocky about how you're better than his cockiness is, in and of itself, pretty cocky. Is your judgment of his holier than thou-ness making you come off as holier than thou?

When I am offended by something, it brings about confusing though exciting, rave-lit colorful questions. In this particular SO OFFENDED state, I'm on the dance floor and I realize a few things. I don't actually know who Kanye is. I'm mostly writing this post amidst the examination that there is more to him (there is always more to a person) than his cocky rhetoric, Grammy award acceptance speech interruptions, holier than thou (Yeezus) attitude, and the apparent fashion-mind-control over his wife. The dichotomy between offense and an astute awareness of one's own limits of thought and judgment can be a welcoming environment for pre-dance mind stretches and important discussion about the living, breathing giant that is today's shit-faced society.

III. Welcome home.
The rager doesn't last forever. If it did, we'd all be mush all the time. Shard hours revert back to minutes, revert back to seconds, revert back to whole human brains taking a walk home.

Maybe you, do you remember when?
Fireworks at Lake Michigan
Oh, now I'm coming home again
Maybe you, do you remember when?
Fireworks at Lake Michigan
Oh, now I'm coming home again
Maybe we can start again
- Homecoming, Graduation

Yes, he's ridiculous, he's cocky, he OFFENDS. Now he's Dr. Kanye, Dr. OFFEND. Let's maybe put our disdain for Kanye, all our righteousness about his righteousness, our now mushy but reunited brain cells, our sucky dance moves into that cake. We should probably mix in a few chill pills, too.

There's one very important dance move I pull out once in a while to annihilate the hate for the haters and the targets, which I do credit in part to my Master Jedi studies via the School of the Art Institute of Chicago:

The mind should blow, should search, should be appalled, should question, should doubt, should comply before drop kicking itself out of complacency, should continue to think of what not just the performer, the cockiness, the high art world, the piece of paper saying you graduated has to say, but also what the human him/herself is saying about art, artistic expression, artistry, art writing, art slamming, art dancing, art performing, art hidden-messaging, art that's not art, art whatever-it-is.

The coolest part about my brain exploding and redefining its shape is that each time the pieces are reunited, a clear message appears in my renewed consciousness: Love them, anyone, and love them anyway, said not-Yeezus.


Now that you have your brain and your wits about you, feel free to start at the beginning again, substituting every "shard" for "shart." Oh, I couldn't resist!

Have fun,