I had a conversation with my friend last night that really got me thinking back on my college days. I realize that, in the almost two years I’ve been keeping this blog, I’ve never really talked about my days as a student at the University of Texas at Dallas. I’ve touched on Grad School here and there, but for the most part, I keep my college days in my past.
There are a few reasons for that. For one thing, I was a very different person back then. Not so different that I would hate myself or that you wouldn’t recognize me, but I definitely had an attitude. I was still bitter about a lot of things that had happened to my family and to people I love. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or how I was going to get to wherever I was going.
In spite of my personal issues, UTD was a great school. I learned a lot and for the most part, had a pretty great time. There was one class there, though, that really rubbed me the wrong way.
I won’t name names or reveal the exact class because I don’t want to be the person who trash talks others online. I can tell you one was a study of the arts class and I took nothing away from it except that I wanted to do the exact opposite of everything that instructor told me. I saw no value in what was taught and I found a lot of the material weird, inappropriate, and to be honest, a little gross. I was genuinely disturbed by what that professor considered “art” and truly resented the way he looked down on “mainstream” artists. For him, an artist or a writer or a filmmaker only had value if what they produced was “outside the box,” in other words “weird and creepy.”
Do you want to know my dirty little secret?
I want to be mainstream. I want my books and my photographs to appeal to a lot of different people. I don’t want to be a part of his stupid, snobby, elitist group of “artists” who “think outside the box.”
Don’t get me wrong. I think genuinely thinking outside the box is a good thing. I think it’s a very good thing. But what this guy called “thinking outside the box,” I call “being weird for the sake of shock value.” And some of it was really shocking, let me tell you. I won’t go into detail, but one of his “projects” involved really disgusting puppets. It still gives me nightmares.
I don’t want to give you the wrong idea about my education at UTD. My academic experience was, overall, very, very positive. But our discussion last night really got me thinking about this one class. To be honest, I’m not even sure that professor is still there or if that class is still being taught. All I can tell you is that if he ever contacts me and tells me that he likes my books, I’ll know I’ve done something wrong.