“Fuck The Critic.”
Ruiz paced in a monochrome hallway, holding a banged-up Betamax recorder in his hand.
“This asshole comes into my house, starts critiquing the fucking wallpaper, no sir, no sir, the carpet does not match the drapes sir, get the fuck out of my house, SIR. Ladies and gentlemen and, I dunno, hyperintelligent animals, or aliens or whatever the fuck you are, we’ve made a mistake. This man is a fucking maniac, and I don’t mean that in the good way.”
Ruiz started walking up his Penrose staircase.
“We have somehow become an institution in and of ourselves, and this is a huge, HUGE fucking mistake. Every time one of you fucking morons makes a memetic graffiti tag, the man comes crashing down on those of us who are actually trying to say something. The stupidest among you have started making childish mistakes. The Man knows our name now. We’re old hat, we’re blasé, we’re fucking bland. People look at our stuff and they sigh. Nobody gives a fuck about us because we’re doing shit that makes no sense.”
Ruiz jumped into a pair of mirrors and entered freefall.
“So I’m going to go ahead and do something a little… radical. Fuck randomness, fuck Dada, fuck all of it. It isn’t cool any more, that’s why nobody talks about us. We used to exist to shock, to challenge, to actually grab The Man by the fucking balls and shove them down his throat. Now we’re just hammering out the same old shit. The toyman has more creativity in his left toe than all of you put together, and it’s time to remedy that. I’m sending this to everyone. Here is our manifesto.”
Ruiz landed into a giant ballpit.
“Number One. Fuck the critics. More specifically, fuck The Critic. The Critic is Nobody. Anyone who’s got a ‘The’ at the beginning of their name is pretentious in all the wrong ways. Distance yourself from those assholes, let them squabble over their scraps of shat-out and recycled ‘creativity’. Make art for yourself, because trust me, if you make art tailored for the critics you’re their bitch, not your own. So yank The Critic’s cock out of your mouths. Start sucking your own cock for once.”
Ruiz picked up a Rubik’s cube and started fiddling with it.
“Number Two. Fuck The Man. That’s what we used to be about, before ‘hahaha lol so random XD’ happened. Here’s a fucking tip, and just the tip, just to see how it feels fucking your brains out: if Nobody understands your art, it’s fucking worthless.”
Ruiz placed the scrap of paper back on the moon.
“Number Three. Fuck you. You’re what ran us out of town like a bad joke, you smashed us into the ground, and you sit around smoking your weed or whatever and wonder why Nobody ‘like, understands us, man’. That’s because you’re not making a point. We’re all so utterly, profoundly derivative. Rehash after rehash. How long until one of us actually does something original for once?”
Ruiz transmigrated ungulaterally betwixt chaotic inorganic multitudes of.
“I’m calling for a renaissance. I’m calling for change. I’m calling for everyone to stop acting like they’re cool just for rearranging the rules of reality. I’m calling for you to stop flooding us with your stupid, stupid bullshit. I’m calling for a pizza delivered in ten minutes or your money back. I’m calling for you to actually sit down and look at everything you’ve done, and ask if you’re actually proud of it. I’m calling for you to realise that you aren’t. I’m calling for you to all stop with the stuff we’ve been doing before. I’m calling for you to make us cool again.”
Ruiz hung up the phone made of cockroach innards.
“Stop making things because you can, stop making things because you want to make things like everyone else, stop making things because you already saw the same thing and wanted to do it again, stop making things that aren’t yours, stop making things that aren’t cool. Because this shit isn’t cool, it’s infantile, it’s fucking stupid. You want to know why we aren’t cool yet? It’s because ‘we’ includes all of us, and sadly, you are one of us. And you just aren’t cool.”
Ruiz smiled into the Betamax recorder.
The Clipper and The Sculptor sat and watched the video.
“How did he build that stuff? Is he… how is he on the moon? What the hell ARE those things?”
“I don’t like it.”
“Well of course you don’t like it, you’re mad you didn’t sculpt this stuff first.”
“No, I mean, I don’t like what he’s trying to do. It seems aimless. He’s trying to break us apart.”
“Back in the day there was no ‘us’. We just did whatever we wanted.”
“It’s better now. We’re working towards a goal. We’re making Art Reality.”
“Yeah, but… I dunno. My heart’s not really in it any more. I’m ‘The Clipper’, all I do is cut up magazines, or recontextualise old stuff. I’m not like the rest of you. I don’t get to make the things I want to. I don’t get to create, just modify. And it’s because of these fucking names.”
“You’re the one who wanted it.”
“Yeah, but not for the rest of my life! Duchamp’s got a point, we’re all just ‘The Whatever’, and I’m sick of it! I want to put my real name on my damn work!”
“Ha, ‘Duchamp’. He doesn’t deserve that pseudonym.”
The Clipper stood up and walked to the kitchen.
“You want something? I’m ordering pizza.”
“Yeah, get me a vegetarian. Anyway, he’s just… ugh. Actually, get me a meat lovers. I need some meat right now.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“Anyway, he’s just… not cool. I mean, Betamax? What’s even the point of that, beyond it just being obscure? You’re the only person I know who actually has a player for these things. We’re probably the only ones even looking at this.”
The Clipper finished ordering, and sat down with The Sculptor again.
“I know The Critic has like ten of them, I got mine from him. He’s gonna be pissed.”
“Oh yeah, he’ll be pissed alright. He’s gonna be calling for Duchamp’s head on a platter.”
“He’s criticising us, and he’s criticising The Critic’s critique.”
“Well, everyone’s a critic. What makes you think people are going to pay him any attention?”
“He’s showy. He’s countering our countercultural revolution, he’s stealing it, he’s misappropriating the source and taking our name for a joyride through the mud. He’s making me really, really mad. I don’t even think the video was an exploit. He’s laughing at us. It’s a normal video of impossible things, he’s calling bullshit on using exploits at all.”
“I don’t get to use exploits, man. All I do is clip things, remember?”
“Yeah, yeah. That was your decision.”
“Was is the operative word, here. I think I’m done with it.”
The Sculptor leapt to the player, fervently removing the tape, putting it to the light, trying to sense the feel of the non-existent on its bevelled edge.
“He’s got you, man, this thing’s an exploit after all, it’s –"
“It’s not. I… I’m just sick of it. I’ve been sick of it for a while. I’ve not been doing anything of my own, and the only reason I’ve been sticking around is because of you guys. But… don’t take this the wrong way, man, but… I want to make other stuff. Don’t you remember your first piece? That weird rebar thing, what did you call it?”
“Uścisk. I remember.”
“People loved that shit. Should have put your name on it. What was the last thing you did? All people remember me for is mailing out some newspaper clippings. We’re stagnating.”
Ruiz opened the door.
“That you are. One Hawaiian, one meat lovers, is that right, gentlemen? Please, tip generously.”
The Sculptor and The Clipper stared at Ruiz Duchamp, sporting a tattered delivery man uniform, who continued offering them the pair of boxes. The Clipper broke the silence.
"…fuck it, whatever. Here's twenty bucks. Keep the change."
"Thanks. Enjoy your pizza!"
The Sculptor switched his gaze to The Clipper as Duchamp walked back out the door.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"Dude, I'm hungry, and he had our pizza. He's not an asshole, it's not going to be poisoned or anything. If he was going to kill us, the video would have done it. We're putty in his hands, and he knows it. He's the one in control here. You're going to hate me for saying this, but… he's cooler than us."
"You… whatever. Just give me my damn meat."
"…this is vegetarian."