Death by 1000 Cuts

December 10, 2007

This is all in some way thesis-relevant so here goes.

I posted a surly rant over on the LACMA photo website about MFA programs, which faux-proletariat folks like to pooh-pooh, but MFA programs are problematic, but not for the reasons people often cite.

They’re problematic because they will slowly destroy you.  Meaning that chances are, if you give it any effort, you’ll get a lot out of grad school in terms of understanding and producing cultural products and ideas, but you will probably also limp away from campus feeling hopeless and defeated.  The reason for this is economics: there’s simply no way to afford to go to graduate school without already having the kind of money and connections that would make grad school unnecessary for you.  I am not one of those people.

I had to actually count up the number of times I completely ran out of money this year: seven.  Mostly this is because I don’t have the professional skills or connections that would enable me to make enough money to go to school full time, hustle the art world part time, and actually, you know, make some art. 

And yet I can’t even get a fucking 6am stocking job at the fucking Gap, which wouldn’t be enough money to pay my bills anyway.  What people fail to understand about being working-class is that it’s not just an indicator of of economics–it pervades every corner of your life.   It doesn’t just mean that you don’t have a lot of money, it means that you likely will not every have any money, it means that many of your relationships will be destroyed by the pressure of money, it means you’ll never receive proper medical care, and it means that higher education won’t provide you with the benefits that it provides to other people.

Like for example: I am likely losing two TAships next semester for the following two reasons: 1) in one case, it’s because nobody knows who’s supposed to have one and who does not, and 2) I may lose the other one simply because the professor I’m working for simply doesn’t like me.  And poverty causes familial tension, so my family is on the verge of disowning me (again) for being a useless faggot artist.  I’ve literally begged other students at my school for enough cash to buy rice cakes to eat for a week or two; if nothing else, grad school will provide me with the begging skills I’ll need on Skid Row.

And this is not to say that grad school has not been “worth it,” but rather just that 1) if you’re considering getting an MFA, go to law school first, and 2) whenever you’ve met with most of the professors and administrators you’ll encounter, check your back for the knives that may be sticking out from it.

Happy holidays!  Next year, I’m fucking applying to law school. 


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