Let’s begin with a disclaimer: Yours Truly is not a psychologist, nor does he have psychiatric training. Therefore his use of lunatic, insane git, mentally deficient in the highest degree, dangerous submoronic infant and the like might be in error.
Now then: here is the most curious use of the word only you may ever see:
“Piss Christ” is not Mr. Serrano’s only photograph depicting an object immersed in his urine—
Yes, not only has this Serrano submerged a crucifix in a jar of urine, and then lovingly photographed it, but “also replicas of Michelangelo’s ‘Moses,’ Myron’s ‘Discobolus’ and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, as well as a statue of Satan”.
The New York Times, which generously supplied these quotations, went on to say that none of these other objets d’art “have generated as much controversy.”
The story becomes interesting when you learn that these photographs, each the size of a small man, were purposely put on display at the Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery in New York City. The logical implication is that they therefore were meant to be seen by members of the public, perhaps even purchased and brought home by these same peoples.
What a curiosity!
Now we can all agree that, because of certain genetic or environmental effects, say via the prolonged ingestion of harmful chemicals by himself or by his mother, a man can wake one morning, look reality square in the face and say to it, “Thou art a stranger to me.”
At this point he will exhibit perplexing behavior, such as eating raw spiders, tuning in to MSNBC, or gleefully calling his excretions “art.” Ordinarily, this man would be led into a small room, fed tooth cups of orange juice laced with aspirin and given volumes of P.G. Wodehouse in the hope that he should recover. If his disease should prove incurable, he is at least contained so that he cannot harm himself or others. Yet somehow in this case, Serrano remains at large.
A lunatic is not responsible for his actions. His mental faculties are so diminished that he deserves nothing but our charity and sympathy. We therefore cannot blame poor Serrano when he says of his so-called work, “I just feel I have to stay proud.” We should instead smile patiently and ask, gently, whether he has remembered to take his medications.
Madness is rarely contagious. And this is what is so puzzling. Because it is unlikely that the owners of the Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery and its customers who purchased Serrano’s soiled wares have “caught” Serrano’s insanity. Too, it is beyond probability to expect such a large coincidental gathering of the pathologically unhinged. But these people do exist, and thus their, and not Serrano’s, slackwitted behavior demands explanation.
I have a theory. In one word: Inheritance. In two words: Paris Hilton. This infamous young lady was unlucky enough to have inherited the fortunes of her family, whose progenitors created the Hilton hotel chain. She is not insane in any clinical sense, but spending a life bathed in unearned money has allowed her to comport herself in a way not consistent with civilized society.
And there it is, you see. Serrano’s pictures sell for vast sums, the kinds of monies you find being passed by inheritance. There are self-made wealthy people who have of course not inherited, but these people by definition cannot be ignorant because they are out making the stuff they will eventually leave their children. No: it isn’t wealth alone, but its combination with idleness which generates imbecility.
True incorrigible stupidity can only come from having one’s every wish granted by the application of money. This is because real education is hard work which cannot be contracted out. Knowledge of the quadratic equation cannot be had for a fee: it requires effort, which is priceless. Mere money does not make one intelligent, but when it accumulates it is notorious for bamboozling its holders into believing that dollar signs are equivalent to IQ.
Strike that: not just its holders, but others, too. Intelligence diminishes in direct proportion to the perceived adjacency of those in the possession of fortunes. Incidentally, the effects are not usually permanent, and can be erased by simple change of situation.
These and the evident misfortune of an inheritor happening upon the insane and (thus far) un-institutionalized Serrano are all the facts we need to explain the calamity before us.
Update Be sure to read the link (and links therein) kindly provided by YOS.