a.) ‘Cause they’ll never find a job. No, really. Here’s what happens: there are a billiondy art history majors. Some of them will go on to pursue doctorates in something actually useful. The rest of them will become government sops, managers at Ann Taylor, and sundry. The other 5 will get their MFA and their PhD and teach for a living. Which will be great. But only one of the 5 will actually ever make tenure. Turns out, Art History isn’t so useful in a modern economy for the world’s temporarily remaining superpower.
b.) Because this is what will happen:
b. 1.) (ahem) They will drink potentially too much, go to the restroom and see a $10 print of Argentinian-painter-who-paints people-dancing-on-the-beach. This print will be framed, “easily accessible” (in art criticism terms), and it will remind them, every time: art is something for coffee mugs and field trips. Sure, you thought it was an excellent vehicle for understanding the intersection of religion, culture, and history; but no, it’s simply a decorative representation of attractive people cavorting on a beach. In the moonlight.
b.2.) They will then be pissed aggravated because they can’t remember the Argentinian’s name. They will then be pissed at the status quo, which determines what is “Art” and what is “artistic.”
b.3.) Because they will see that painting, in the loo, and realize that they studied the history of the decorative, not the substantial, and even though Dostoevsky said “beauty will save the world,” it’s not true. Hard work, doggedness, decency–these will save the world, not Argentinians in satin, dancing on the sand. Doubly so for those who don’t paint the Argentinians in satin. Those people will do nothing of worth except create more words. As though there weren’t enough of those.
b.4.) They will hit their heads, roughly 3.5 hours after the first drink de choix, “Or was he Chilean?”
c.) Then they’ll encounter… Suzon. (Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère,1882)
c. cont.) Suzon sees all.
You should have studied bandages, corn, and STEM technologies…Suzon sees. Suzon shouts “Mill! Utilitarianism! Be Useful!”
The boy you love…he’ll never know….Suzon sees.
The regret that you daren’t express out loud when you know you’re useless and you’ve gotten it all, like, as in every-freaking-thing, wrong…you guessed it, Suzon sees.
You love…and they’ll never know how much…yep, Suzon knows your secret, you transparent tool, you.
See, Mother, Mama, you who love an Art History major, Suzon knows: when your gal–or guy– has had just a pint enough to know what a waste, that knowledge for its own sake thing, actually is, in real-world terms. Suzon knows, too.
What’s worse? c.1.) Your Art History major knows, too. S/he’s probably written a paper or two on Suzon, for goodness’ sake. So your Art History darling knows that Suzon knows that you know that Suzon knows…
And Suzon sees that, too.
In fact, your Art History darling, when she’s not splitting her limited time on the planet between wondering the best policy decisions for her actual country and the reasons for papal-imperial conflict in the twelfth century in medieval Europe, has spent her time writing 5,100 words to her professor on why he’s wrong (R-O-N-G) that Suzon demonstrates Manet’s impartiality to the world (no, of course she doesn’t: Manet was painting Suzon’s closed relationship to the world as a service employee. There’s a difference.).
And Suzon, (sigh) sees that, too.
Suzon sees every memory the Art History victim has, every disappointment the Art History Failure has inflicted on her family, society, the world.
Suzon sees every failure, hurt, and care in the eyes of the one who observes.
And, dammit, the Art History major staring at the $20 Deck the Walls version of Suzon sees that Suzon sees.
And it’s all infinitely worse from the reflection.
And that, my Mama darlings, is why you (thou) should (shalt) never let your (thine) babies grow up to be Art History majors.