Where Tracey Emin’s Messy Bed Belongs

The Tate recently announced that “My Bed” will soon be on display for those visiting the gallery.

This new addition by self-proclaimed artist Tracey Emin is easy to describe. It is an unmade bed with stained sheets and a variety of objects such as used condoms and cigarette butts littering the ground around it.

The skill required to put these items together is also easy to measure. The bed, for example, is not sculpted, let alone painted. It is literally a bed. The same goes for the items around it. Speaking frankly, this collection of objects took no skill to create and no effort to organize.

Is it even art? No, not by a long shot. “Art” does not mean “a collection of objects that someone has gathered together or walked away from.” Nor does it mean “something that repulses passersby.”

“Art” is a re-creation of reality through some medium, such as bronze or paint. It requires of the artist time, effort, and (because those are in limited supply) selectivity—the artist must choose, based on what he holds important, what he will spend his limited time and effort on depicting.

Of course, the contents of a person’s pockets, or the items that build up around their bed, can say an enormous amount about that person. Tracey Emin’s bed is “autobiographical” or a “self-portrait” in that sense.

But it is not art.

The word to describe a collection of used condoms and cigarette butts is trash. The proper place for it is not at a gallery, but a landfill. And as the gallery’s curators are seemingly not able to do their jobs, let’s all hope that the janitor hired to clean up the place will do his.

The Truth About Books and Reality Shows

There’s a meme going around that a book commits suicide every time someone watches a reality show.

I see it in my Facebook news feed every so often and you may have seen it in yours.

But you know what?

It’s wrong. There’s nothing true (or funny) about it. And I can show you why, at least in part, with a picture:

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The Very Busy Writer


Early one morning, the sun rose in the sky, and a writer began typing words out, one after another. The writer’s inbox was full of messages, each one beckoning to be read. But the writer paid them no attention; he just typed words out, one … [Continue reading]

More of the Same from Quent Cordair?


I've been a fan of  Quent Cordair's ever since I first read A Prelude to Pleasure. Everything I have read by him since has been stellar. And so I eagerly bought The Match, just published on Amazon this morning,  and read through it … [Continue reading]

Good News for Fans of Nevil Shute


Are you a fan of Nevil Shute? If you are, I have some good news: The series relaunch that Vintage Classics began in 2009 has proven successful at attracting new readers (or at least reselling to old ones). Because of that, the publisher will … [Continue reading]

“Best-Sellers” Ain’t What They Used to Be

Do you choose what book to read next on the basis of whether it is "best-selling" or not? If so, or even if you give it some weight in your buying decisions, a recent article by Jeffery A. Trachtenburg should be of interest. The article begins … [Continue reading]