The Problem With You Is. . .

November 23rd, 2008

You know what the problem with you is?  You think too much, you’ve got your head in the clouds, you need to come down to earth.  You’re too literal, too much a dreamer, you make poor choices, you’re not as smart as you think you are.  You never learn, when will you ever learn?  You over-analyze things, you don’t think things through, you want everything to be easy, you don’t try hard enough, quit trying so hard, you make everything too hard, life just isn’t that hard.

Do you know that Wim Delvoye has a farm in China where tattoo artists cover pigs in elaborate tattoos? They put the pigs on high tables where there is no chance of escape, and spend hours puncturing them with needles.  Afterwards, they show the pigs in art galleries and exhibitions.  People show up – they pay to see this.  The pigs then get slaughtered, and their skins are sold to the highest bidder.  Delvoye, whose other art includes birdhouses dressed in leather, and x-rays of people taken in the act of coitus, has been wildly successful.

There are no accidents, everything happens for a reason, life is a folly, a fool’s game, there is no rhyme or reason.  Accidents happen,  buck up, be strong, find your bootstraps. You’re on this earth for a reason, better days are coming, look ahead, don’t look back, learn from your mistakes, learn from history. You’ve got to stand up, stand tall, back down, back off, be gentler, take some pride, you’re too proud, don’t be so arrogant. Look out for #1, remember there’s only one you, don’t be so self-serving, remember you’re not that special.

The other week, a 13 year-old Somali girl was raped.  When her family filed a complaint, they sentenced the girl to death by stoning.  They buried her in dirt up to her neck, and let a group of men and boys throw rocks at her until she was dead.  I know, it’s the culture, right?

You’re too strong, it’s not all about you, no woman is an island, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, stay strong, be stronger, tomorrow’s a new day, things will look different in the morning, get real, face problems head-on, think of something else, think positive, luck will come, think it and be it, the world is your oyster, the world doesn’t revolve around what you want, give yourself a break, put your nose to the grindstone.

Right here, in America, a woman didn’t want to be with her husband anymore, so he threw acid in her face.  She lost her eyes, her nose, her ears, her mouth. That’s not our problem, right?  I know. The thing is, see, it really is. . .the same human impulse to injure someone, to leave a punishing mark, exists on a smaller scale all around us, and we cover it up in self-blame and platitudes, and create this false paradise where our minds and emotions – that thing called spirit – is so disconnected from our physical bodies that it supposedly can’t be affected by any actions except our own. It’s this lie, ingrained and long-told, that is killing our compassion and ability to empathize.

You need to love yourself more, you don’t love yourself enough, be humble, you’re too confident, you come off as a bitch, you’re intimidating, look people in the eye, don’t stare, don’t be so intense, laugh more, smile more, if you smile too much people won’t take you seriously.  There are no problems, only solutions, no obstacles only challenges. Try, try again, keep trying, if you had any talent at all you would have made it by now, why don’t you find something else to do.  Rise above it all, take a breather, be realistic, pay attention, heal yourself. See, the problem with you is. . .

Yes, I know.  I have no tattooed pigs.  It would never have occurred to me to tattoo a pig. I am closer to the pig, and feel more for her, than for the artist.

You can’t afford that kind of thinking.  No one wants to hear the pig’s side of the story.  They want bright and colorful amusement.  Something they can laugh at, make a calendar of, display on their coffee table, or frame on their wall.  A conversation piece, a knick-knack, a little something to gab about at the water cooler.

I would rather rescue the pigs and damn those who collect tortured skins as art.

Don’t be an idiot.  Pigs cannot buy their own farms; artists can and do.  Stop making excuses.  All any of us can do is find our own version of the painted pig, parade it around, and hope it’s successful enough to buy us the freedom to do what we really want to do.

You’re really fucked up.  Wim Delvoye is fucked up.

It’s a fucked up world we live in, and see, that’s your problem. . .

20 Responses to “The Problem With You Is. . .”

  • I never realized how many cover-it-up, ignore the problem, stick your head in the sand (and your ass up as a target), it’s someone else’s problem, it’s your own damn fault platitudes human beings have constructed over the millennia to absolve us from doing nothing.

    I have wondered, being a teenager during the 1960’s and observing from a small town, at the lack of involvement and actual action over the past 8 years. And I’m one of the ones who never made a move to protest anything. Protester’s who march and carry signs and yell are bad people — so some say.

    Whether we’re gay, straight, bi, religious, non-religious, democrat, republican, independent, SHAME ON ALL OF US FOR NOT TAKING TO THE STREETS. And I’m talking about myself too.

    It is a fucked up world and it is my problem. And you missed the mutilated genitalia and forced marriages but you shamed me .

    Some say it’s cultural or religious and we shouldn’t interfere in other’s rituals, especially if there’s national or world economics involved. Shame on us, human dignity, civility and ethical treatment of living creatures is at risk as long as money and power are more important.

    Shame on me.

  • Wonderful piece, Jane.

    I’ve been an activist, in one way or another, all of my life. It’s been an expensive habit. Standing up for one’s beliefs doesn’t come cheap. On the other hand, I’ve almost always been able to sleep at night. Albeit sometimes, alone, because of my choices…

    I’d like to think I’ve matured into a more effective activist, now more prone to talk with and teach than shout at and preach… I have grown kinder and less judgmental over the years toward those who make different kinds of choices… those who choose what would seem to be safer paths. Sometimes I even briefly envy them when I am weary and it would be easier to pretend I cannot see what I see, feel what I feel… to turn away and not feel so compelled to find some way, large or small, to speak up, stand up.

    But such moments are brief: I yam what I yam.

    And when one day I die, hopefully I will do so knowing I stood true to myself, as best I could, to the very end.

    Will the costs have been worth it?

    Maybe. Maybe not. But, in the end, it doesn’t matter because I have no earthly idea how to do it any differently.

  • P.S. to Marcie

    Please don’t waste energy on shaming yourself. We all do what we can as and when we can. If something in Jane’s words has awoken or re-awoken something in you, please use that energy to nurture it and flame it to life, not to shame yourself.

  • Oh Jane. I’ve heard you talk about how much you hate cliches, and I know you’ve mentioned a few, but this story really drives the point home, and hard. Wow. We really do talk to each other like that, don’t we? And in the process dehumanize and de-spirit each other while making our own excuses for things that are clearly wrong, unjust, and unfair.

    I’m not sure if it was your purpose, but I’m going to make an effort to not use cliches like this anymore…especially now that I am aware how many of them I’ve used.

  • I was wondering when you’d post on this topic, Jane. And no matter what, those of us who speak out/up, take a stand, give voice to that which needs a light shone upon it, take a lot of shit, and put up with inanities called platitudes.

    My name is PQ and I have a problem.

    I shine lights in dark corners and yell and scream until I’m hoarse. I won’t shut up about stuff. I’m a bitch.

    Here’s how:
    I’ve carried a placard, yelled, chanted, marched, crossed my legs and sat in silence, and faced down adversaries who were ‘loaded for bear’ since I was three years old. Protest was just one of the fires my mother instilled in me; but fire I have. Most believe it’s because I’m an Aries woman; maybe Mom just fanned it. The fire is far from going out or dying down.

    I accept that I will always be on the outside watching, when I’m not raising a ruckus, and while I find myself alone much of the time, I’d rather live fired up and standing up than shrugging off that which is intolerable–or should be considered intolerable.

    While I can count myself in the ranks of artists (at least in my own little head) it would NEVER occur to me to tattoo a pig so it could be slaughtered, skinned and hung on a wall. It also has never crossed my mind to put my own body waste on display, as another ‘artist’ has found his fame in doing.

    Culture elevates, not degrades, btw.

    I went to see the Guerrilla Girls (feminist women in art who protest the lack of art by women in museums, among other issues, while wearing gorilla masks) Friday night. During Q&A I asked, “How does one become a Guerrilla Girl?” and the response was pretty much what Jane intimated and Little Sun suggested: Don’t get trapped in the paradigm; find an issue that rankles you and get involved! If you don’t like/have a group that addresses the issue that boils your blood–start your own!

    WTF? What is it that humans are lacking that propel so many to seek notoriety and so many to desire to be guilty by association? Is it really a search for freedom? If so, they’d be better off reading some history.

    I’d rather be alone, suffering cliches and knowing that I wasn’t party to bringing any harm to anyone who crossed my path that day. It’s the times I screw that up that I feel I’ve let the universe down.

    But, tomorrow’s another day! I can begin again with a fresh start! And try, try again! ;) I’m such a bitch! ~couldn’t resist!~

    Thank you, Jane!

  • I’m speechless. From the horror represented in this post as well as the brilliant way you put it together.

    I read about that girl in Somalia, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, and it makes my blood boil as do all so-called “honor killings.” The THREE men who raped her were not charged at all and her stoning was witnessed by over a thousand people in a public stadium. One boy who tried to object was shot dead. A truckload of stones was brought in for the killing. After a while, nurses were sent in to take Aisha out of the hole and check to see if she was still alive. She was, so they brought her back to the hole and continued the stoning.

    If the Bush government insists on invading foreign countries to bring law and order, I vote for troops entering Kismayo and getting control over the al-Shabab militia who controls the area is responsible for these savage killings.

  • This is a powerful piece, Jane. I had no idea about those poor animals. It’s heartbreaking! I can’t imagine what sort of person would deem that art and want to buy the skin.

    There is so much that’s wrong with this world - but there are also good things: like the honesty of words. Thanks for another great post!


  • don’t forget the Wim Delvoye action figure….there’s that fucked-up-ness too…

    my mate and i where talking tonight about how much she loves her students. she’s a voc. ed. teacher (retail occupations) for special ed students (future walmart greeters of the world). she was talking about how refreshing it is to be with them because they are not the least bit cynical, do not know malice and are generally very affectionate. she thinks they love deeply and purely. she described them as “real”. they are a delightful lot, i’ll give you that. but i had to disagree on the real part. real is pretty damn ugly, if you ask me. i thought they were more ethereal and what others would call enlightened.


    here’s one for you:
    keep your chin up
    and out of the way!


  • Kris, Delvoye also built a machine that replicates human feces. It’s been in museums all over the world. When the shit comes out of the machine, it is dried and signed, put in a glass case and sold for $900 a piece. WTF??? This is art????

    Jane, I just sent you a picture I found while googling tattooed pigs. I don’t know if you’ll want to post it, but it made me sick. It’s of a newborn piglet, umbilical cord still attached, that has a giant tattooed doily on its back. This one is also from Delvoye’s “art farm”.

    As I read this, I had a very strong picture in my mind of two women sitting back to back in chairs, each speaking their pieces out loud. Then, towards the end, when the first woman tells the second woman ’see, the problem with you is…’ they turn around and start talking to each other. The funny thing is, Jane, that the second woman outwardly looked like a modern day artist, with tattoos and piercings, ripped fishnet stockings, and avant garde clothes. You looked like you, in your jeans and sweater.

    I think this image came to me because what your piece relays to me is that what looks like art in our society often isn’t….and what appears simple is really often complex. You’re very complex Jane, and I mean that in the best way. Multi-faceted, with a lot of layers.

    What I’m trying to say is that I think your words are very powerful and they never fail to touch me. I don’t know why people buy signed pieces of shit, but I do know that I’d buy anything YOU sold. I hope one day you can sell it.

  • barbara…i don’t know why people buy signed pieces of shit either, but i’ve been asking that question for years. ;)

  • thank you.

  • Art? No. Yet this is what makes it to the museums, the media, the exhibitions. . .this is the type of thing that allows Wim Delvoye and other like artists to own make money, own multiple properties, and indulge whatever creative impulse they may have, including the replication of human shit.

    Audiences are often blamed for their alleged poor taste, but it is not the audience, it’s the marketers — the agents, the promoters, the corporations, the media — that decide what is put in the marketplace. The only input the audience has is whether or not they buy the tickets, the art, the books, etc., and our choices have grown more limited over time. The proliferation of copycat art and artists leave much of the public almost desperate to see, hear, or read something new and different — but what’s promoted as “different” is often just shocking or repulsive.

    Shock value, especially in a stale market, sells.

  • okay….how about a little balance because i’m seriously bothered by that image.

  • i can across this as well….

    barbara, i can’t stop thinking about that image of the two women sitting back to back… please, someone…create that….

  • Crazy in love with this. Telling, hard, and true.

  • It. Is. Not. Art.

    The extent of human cruelty to other humans and animals is incomprehensible. The case of the Somali girl, any culture that stones the VICTIM to death (or stones, period), is an aberration, and I would never forgive this kind of thing because it’s the culture. Even though, as you say, there are those who would dismiss it as “it’s the culture.”

  • That poor little piggy looks like a victim of The Skinner from Dexter! AWFUL!!!

  • i see no difference in using slaughtered pigs for art and using slaughtered pigs for dinner, which is why i have been a vegetarian my whole life. there is hypocrisy at being outraged over them being tattooed and then killed and yet going out to buy pork chops. i have no idea if the commenter’s are veggies or not, but it’s just something to think about. this post was heartbreaking and amazing though, your blog is by far one of the best i’ve found yet.

  • Kris, it’s strange how images just hit us when we’re reading certain pieces, but the one I had during this one was really strong. I think Jane should write a play. :-)

    Hear me, Jane? LOL. Where are you? It’s been days and days since you posted and that’s unusual! You must be hard at work on your book. I hope so! :-)

  • Has anyone heard from Jane?

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply