So, Mr Whatt…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dictionary words are: skolion, skrimshank, slabber, skulpin, skirret, skreigh, and butyric. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. Should the professor turn up in the garb of a Russian peasant lady smoking a clay pipe you should not allow this to distract you from your studies.
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‘Mr Whatt, may I call you William?’
‘Certainly not…’
‘Ah, right… So… Mr Whatt, you seem to dabble in so many different creative fields: print making, drawing, sculpture, photography, composing electronic music tracks, painting, mail art postcards…’
‘Hm, yes… and decalcomania, and blues guitar playing…’
‘And theatre set design?’
‘Oh, I never saw theatre design as an art form – it was just something which required a little bit of creativity that people gave me money to do for them, my heart, and my art wasn’t really in it.’
‘Speaking of money, and possibly fame too, do you think that if you’d concentrated on just one thing, and not spread yourself so thin, that you might have actually been a success?’
‘A success? Hm, maybe, but would I have been happy just doing just one arty thing?’
‘I don’t know… would you?…’
‘Possibly, but I could never have got along with all the phony PR, the awful networking, and the manipulative bullshit that is so much part of climbing the ladder to money and fame; all that stuff is best left to those awful untalented, non-creative, grasping media people… those trendy opportunistic leeches…’
‘Er, are you talking about me!?…’
‘Er… Oh no, sorry Vanessa, I didn’t mean to, erm…’
‘Hm…’
‘But then you see, in most of the arts people do their best stuff when they don’t have any money or fame to feed, it’s a time of freedom; as soon as an artist becomes well off, and adored by the media and public, the art goes downhill fast. I can think of plenty of them in the world of fine art, and of course in the world of music, rock music that is, they soon lose their edge, they shot what bolts they had when they were poor – they are totally out of bolts now…’
‘What about classical music, and jazz Mr Whatt, they…’
‘Oh they died out as an art form years ago, but nobody has noticed – the people left are just going through the motions, regurgitating the past…’
‘Oh, alright…’
‘Of course the successful and rich artists still have a large audience to support them, whatever feeble thing they manage to come up with is automatically praised… who was it said “nothing succeeds like success”?’
‘Er, Sir Arthur Helps, in 1868?’
‘Oh?… I mean, a large audience for my work would be nice, and of course very encouraging, but the small number of people who look at and listen to the things I do, do so because they like it, and not because the newspapers and the reviewers tell them it would be very ‘cool’ to.’
‘Do you have any heroes Mr Whatt? A role model perhaps?’
‘Well, there are plenty of artists and musicians that I like…’
‘But in your attitude to your life, and your work… and bearing in mind your obvious lack of success?’
‘Hm, yes, but it would be someone fictional.’
‘Like Mr Pooter from Diary of a Nobody?’
‘No, no I don’t think so – possibly Philip Marlowe, the character created by Raymond Chandler.’
‘The 1940s private detective?’
‘Hm, he struggled on, doing good things for very little reward as he watched the seedy world of money and power and bullshit revolve around him.’
‘And you?’
‘Yes, I do what I do, like Marlowe, ploughing my lone furrow, because it is free of the pretence, I can do what I like, and if one or two people are amused or touched by what I do, that is a nice feeling, and it gives some point to getting out of bed in the mornings to do it… Have you written that down Vanessa?…’
‘Mm…’

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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6 Responses to So, Mr Whatt…

  1. Dana Doran says:

    Oh Mr. Whatt! I don’t believe bouncing from one medium to another has any effect on the “success” of an artist. It’s a system as you know…and, who you know. If you were hanging out with David Bowie and Andy Warhol (like Jean-Michel Basquiat – who died of a heroin overdose at 27) you too might be recognized as a “modern master.” Do you know what Frida Kahlo and Basquiat had in common? ….besides Spanish heritage I mean – they both had traumatic childhood accidents involving moving vehicles…..it gave the art critics something tragic to write about – the impetus of their young burgeoning art careers….blah blah blah….Frida met Diego, Basquiat met Warhol….unless you have a famous mentor to guide you through…(?)

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Oh, yes indeed, and here in the UK it’s who you went to posh ‘public (private) school’ with… Nearly all the members of David Cameron’s cabinet went to the same school as him…

  2. ktz2 says:

    ‘It’s Whatt’
    ‘What is ?’
    ‘Whatt’
    ‘What?’
    ‘Whatt’
    ‘What is Whatt ?’
    ‘Yes !’

  3. twallisstone says:

    Excellent commentary on “What is success?. Bravo!!

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