The Art of Failure: Winning @ Losing



The art of failure is not like most other mediums. Those who have talent for it find it accidentally. They decide to write for the Ath and end up face planting on their keyboard, and still try to hand all those pages of the letter “u” to their editor. They buy rust buckets without knowing they need car insurance or registration for the hunk of junk they just drove home. They are wholly inebriated before an early morning meeting with their advisor. Rightfully you ask :“why is this art?”

The point of art is to enrich the human experience—to feel something that someone else created. I don’t believe that failures are entirely at the fault of people experiencing them. As such, I conclude that failure is a kind of reverse performance art. As it happens, you are opened to new ideas, experiences, and emotions. The power that failure has to elicit these feelings is beyond any other medium. Your failures stick with you far beyond your emotional attachments; to your favorite music, show, movie, or any other medium of art. Failures are turning points; they usher in growth, and catalyze change. As such: failures must be art.

Today we live in a postmodern world. Postmodernism is built around the key idea that no idea, no media, no art – is inherently more valuable than any other. It’s the ultimate equalizer for the human condition. Once you see your life as an art, you can easily make the claim under postmodernism that the time you totally botched the multiple choice section has the same inherent value as the entirety of the results when you do a Google image search for “funny images”. Subjective value rules in a postmodern society. This article doesn’t have value because its published, it has value because you’ve read it, connected with it, you gave it value, and that is all it has.

As you begin to see your failures as an art your life changes. You see yourself less as the director and more as the audience. Which is what you really are. You have some control, but you’re calling in requests, you aren’t the disc jockey. This shouldn’t be a reason to let off the effort you put in, because goddamn it you want to hear ‘Everybody’ by the Backstreet Boys and you can goddamn request it. If it happens: you didn’t make it happen, if it doesn’t: you didn’t fail to make it happen. Your part is limited to the request; the result is far from your hands. All you can do is grab life by the collar and yell into the abyss: “This is what I want, you bastard!”

So the next time you nearly trip on those stairs that are the wrong size for you to comfortably take two at a time, the next time you hit “reply-all”, and the next time you think you fucked up beyond all repair. Take a second, lean back in your chair, and probably fall off it (because it’s just one of those days), and think about this article. About how you aren’t even sure if it makes sense, about what kind of idiot doesn’t know about car insurance. Then think to yourself: “Well shit, at least I’m not THAT bad.”