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We Create Art All the Time. Try to be Rational about It.

Here’s the thing about art: It’s utterly irrational. Our need to create, our need to share, our need to have it appreciated, our need to depict truth or beauty or goodness. But the artistic work itself is rational, within its sphere.

That list sucks.

Army-Navy? That game hasn’t meant anything since the 1950s. Historically relevant? I suppose, but then why isn’t Harvard-Yale on this list?

BYU-Utah? Okay, this list obviously isn’t about historical relevancy. I’m not even sure why this game is listed at all, unless Mormonism is the criterion.

Mississippi-Mississippi State? This game is one of my favorites, partly because of its name: The Egg Bowl. But is a slogan a reason to include it? If so, then we need Purdue-Indiana listed because the winner takes home the Old Oaken Bucket.

Auburn-Alabama at number one? If intra-state rivalry is the test, okay, but otherwise? No. It’s not bigger than OSU-Michigan.

And I realize the Pac-12 might be gone soon, but surely at least one Pac-12 game deserves a spot. USC-UCLA, maybe. At least USC-ND?

Art Must be Consistent within Itself

In short, the list is inconsistent within itself.

That’s why it sucks.

The list is a little work of art. Someone created it. It’s an artistic endeavor.

And as such, it needs to hold together within itself.

90 Seconds of “Father of the Bride” Sucked

I really enjoyed Steve Martin’s Father of the Bride.

Except for one 90-second scene: After the father complains about the mounting costs of a costly wedding, he sees his kindly daughter looking at ways to cut expenses. Instead of reducing the number of flowers from 10,000 to 1,000, she was looking to hire a friend to take the pictures.

I was like, “What? That makes no sense, within the context of opulence like this. Perhaps reducing the number of limos from three to one, but to go from $50,000 of expenses to shaving off a basic cost?”

It didn’t hold together.

I remember complaining about Father to a friend and she sneered, “It’s just a movie.”

I thought, “You know, she’s right.”

And then later I thought, “You know, she’s wrong.”

It is just a movie, but qua a movie, it needs to hold together.

Art is Irrationally Rational

Here’s the thing about art: It’s irrational. Our need to create, our need to share, our need to have it appreciated, our need to depict truth or beauty or goodness.

But the artistic work itself is rational, within its sphere.

This little essay is artistic. If I were to veer now and start talking about James Bond or my garden, you’d “WTF” on me and stop reading. I’m making a point about art, so now I need to finish it, my penchant for 007 and zinnias notwithstanding.

Consider the Art of Conversation

Conversation is artistic. I call it a “little art.” You speak, and the other responds. The conversation grows and evolves. If it’s memorable, you’ll recall it later, maybe wishing you’d said something different, maybe chuckling about it.

You ever have those conversations where the other person can’t hold it together?

“I saw a beautiful classic car earlier today.”

“My bowel movement this morning wasn’t great.”


We’ve all experienced it. We all know it sucks. And we all get frustrated by it. We were in the process of creating something — a stupid little something, a conversation of no consequence, an irrational endeavor — and the other person crushed it. How? By inserting irrationality, a non-sequitur, into a little pod that, within itself, needed to be rational.

Silly Art is Still Art, but Rational

The rationality might even embrace irrationality. I think that’s the point of much of modern art.

“Dude, that painting is f’ed up. I can’t even figure out what it’s about.”

“Well, yeah. That’s the point. It’s f’ed up.”

The rationality within that art is irrationality.

It’s not my cup of tea, but I can respect it.

The rationality might even be absurd. Maybe it’s a painting of a horse with a dwarf riding it side-saddle, C-3PO fighting Thor, and a bouquet of flowers.

That, I’m afraid to admit, is my cup of tea. I might purchase it. I’d put it right next to my collection of Albert Camus books.

Art Rests on a Paradox

But no matter what the criterion is, the work of art, to have any worth at all, needs to be consistent within itself. That thing that is ultimately irrational (art) needs to be rational.

It might be a paradox, but then again, all things ultimately are.

That list of football rivalries? The urge to create and share it was irrational, but the result is irrational too, and that’s why it sucks.