I understand that you don’t appreciate the importance of what I do, sir, and that your plebeian taste and suburban mindset guarantee that you can’t possibly comprehend the multiple layers of meaning, and indeed beauty, in the work I just presented to you. But regardless of your personal taste—or lack thereof—I’d thank you not to refer to me as “another fucking telemarketer.”
I’m not a telemarketer; I’m an artist.
Making my way through this incredibly demanding piece of performance art, which, in a post-post-modern meta-ironic gesture towards the devaluation of the individual, I refer to as my “call-script,” requires an act of creative will that you can’t imagine.
Every twenty seconds to two minutes, I have to reboot, create the performative space again from the ground up and then inhabit it, for a daily target of between 200 and 400 individual audience members. You say you’re tired of “people like me” interrupting your dinner? You can’t possibly know how tired I am of having to step out of this world and into the one I’ve willed into existence through sheer creative force, time after time, all for the sake of my art.
Knowing that I’m still way below my “accepts offer” targets for the day only makes it that much harder. But the show, as they say, must go on.
You deride what I do, call it “annoying” and “intrusive” and “a privacy invasion,” but here’s where you’re confused—that’s exactly what good art should do. It should root around in your soul, dig up emotions you didn’t even know you had, hit you right when you were sitting down to family dinner, leaving you hungry and your food cold. You think you’re simply expressing your contempt for “my kind,” but in fact, you’re proving that what I’m creating has power, meaning—so much in fact that it can even worm its way into a cold, hostile, closed little mind like yours.
But of course you wouldn’t understand that, because you’re not an artist. I can see right here on my call sheet that you’re a “pool maintenance/pool accessories retail and services” worker. God, I can’t imagine something as soul-sucking as that.
You don’t even see the half of it. Did you know that when we make a sale, we have to walk to the middle of the room and pull on a bell, hung there for only that purpose?
Each day, we, as a collective of artists, perform this action as a commentary on our national obsession with success and capitalistic ends, contrasting high concept with so-called “low” expression in a way that upends all your preconceptions about what, exactly, art is. And if we pass a series of “Go-Get-Em Goals!” we get a free premium coffee, or at even higher levels, an office pizza party.
I put myself through all of this as part of the struggle, as further proof that my dedication to my calling must be truly profound if I’m
willing to put up with the repeated abuses of ignorance simply to pursue it. In his time, Duchamp was called a plumber. Van Gogh was viewed as a pathetic, whore-mongering schizophrenic. Pollock was dismissed as “moderately to severely retarded.”
Still, I get fed up—how could I not? I mean, do I come into your job and scream at you to “take me off the fucking list already! How many times do I have to tell you I’M. NOT. INTERESTED?”
No, I don’t. Given, that’s partially because you don’t call me at home with offers of pool service. But I like to think it’s really just evidence of the difference between people like you—workers—and people like me—artists. I’m willing to put my life’s work, my creation, my very soul, on the line, even in the face of criticism, because it’s that important to me. If a heckler here and there is the price I have to pay, well, sign me up for a no-money down, interest-free offer.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an office pizza party goal to achieve.