Sunday, August 8, 2010

Suffering for Your Art

Of the many drawings I have completed over the years, this is one of my favorites.

Great art is often the product of great suffering. Picasso's Guernica, Goya's The Executions of the Third of May, Dali's Lobster Telephone. I now submit to the pantheon of these immortal works the doodle pictured above, ChoiBurger's "Man Eating a Sandwich."

Shortly after graduating from college, I worked for a time in an office where I shared a desk with a gentleman who, I am sorry to say, had grandly disgusting eating habits. Each day at lunchtime, he would lumber to the sandwich-shop around the corner and return with a 12-inch italian hero and a 2-million ounce coke. Using the coke as a sort of sugary lubricant, he would literally cram the hero into his mouth one inch at a time, barely pausing to chew as mayonnaise and tomato seeds smeared his face and dribbled onto his shirtfront. With each bite, shreds of meat and bread would spray onto his desk as if he were pushing his lunch through a buzz-saw. It was disgusting to watch, but even more disgusting to hear. The snorts and slurps that oozed from this man as he inhaled his meal were an assault, worse than a punch in the face. Lip-smacking, tongue-clicking, saliva-slurping, teeth gnashing, burps and farts firing like gunshots from his massive frame - our desk became a combat zone where I dug trenches in binders and and ducked under paperwork to shield myself from my enemy's bombardment. By the end, I was reduced to a twitching, quivering mess.

Eventually, I found a way to move to another floor, and was able to leave the war-zone behind. But to this day, whenever I hear someone bite into a sandwich I jump behind the nearest piece of furniture for cover.

Without hesitation, I will agree that my suffering in this instance is nowhere on par with the unfortunate men in Goya's masterpiece, the tortured city rendered by Picasso, or the poor lobster shellacked onto Dali's receiver. But did I not endure the chomps of anguish and the gulps of humiliation to breath life into my own work? Dear, dear readers, I can assure you that in all the cubicles in all the offices in all the world, on those days, none suffered as I.

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