I can tell you what good art isn’t: it’s nothing pro-forma. It’s nothing rote, or trite, or usual. It’s not hollow, or false, and good god, it isn’t easy. Is it this? I don’t know. He’s obnoxious, I’ll say that. Also weirdly compelling. It took some nuts to stand up there and continue droning into the silence after the second wave of nervous laughter had passed. After a while you have to accept that the message isn’t in the words. Have a gander, I’ll wait:
So, then, what is the message? Maybe something is wrong, hidden beneath the drone, something that can’t be said. Maybe it’s a zen koan, a repetition that breaks the words down to their component nonsense, which is important, here, because…? I mean, it’s effective, playing on discomfort in an Andy Kaufman manner, but after the novelty fades, is there anything behind it? Form trickery without substance is a hallmark of onanistic academic poetry, and it really fucking bothers me. Was this poem successful art? Was it good? Man, I don’t know.
Did it make everyone there uncomfortable? Yes. Does it have value beyond that one-off discomfort? Eh. Is bald discomfort, in and of itself, interesting? No. Yes. Shit, I don’t know. Would I enjoy seeing it live? Not particularly. Did I post it on the bindle and write about it? Yes. Does something generating discussion mean it has worth or merit or is successful? Not necessarily. Did it make me think about the meaning and definition of art? Sure.
But hell, look, here’s the point: It’s okay to giggle! It’s okay to smile! It’s okay to not be so gravely serious and competitive about art all the time! It exists solely and exclusively to explain and enrich our lives. That’s it. Art’s not about money, or fame, or critical acclaim; it’s about solace, and the thousand roads to joy. This entire droning poem, more than anything else, is first and foremost a very silly joke. Just because they stopped laughing doesn’t mean it’s not funny.
Was it a good poem? God no, it was an awful poem.
Was it successful?
Oh, art. You make my head hurt so good.