Practicing Etiquette, Issue II.IV
Robert Hayes Kee,
Department of Polite Aesthetic Praxis

This month’s column was delivered as a Kee-note address at the second annual summertime foregathering of the staff of this magazine in Baltimore, Maryland. I would like to once again thank the editors of this magazine, the hosts of the event, and the present audience for making such a presentation possible. It is a genuine pleasure, one rivaled only by the blooming of a favorite flower or the suffering of a vile nemesis.

May both of these events find their way to you in the near future, dear readers.

Robert Hayes Kee

June 28th

Baltimore, Maryland

I am thrilled that, for a second time, I can, here, present my missive for an annual audience of listeners, this delightful audience. To be here today, you all have accepted an invitation, for this time and place, and I thank you for this polite action. This basic etiquette unites us all here today.

I am pleased to take a second polite action to acknowledge my indebtedness to the hosts of this event and the editors of this magazine for making my continued involvement in its monthly outpouring possible.

Last year, I began my Kee-note speech, in earnest, by describing the goals and esthetics of this magazine and of the specific purposes of my involvement. I do not feel the need to restate our manifesto this year. Having tilled the soil under which we buried the putrid corpse of reason, we now have a bountiful garden. The flowers of absurdity have proven to be the most beautiful of all.

This second recurrence, the basic step in repetition, speaks to the willfulness of this assemblage of humans dedicated to absurd esthetic praxis. Inaudibly the world revolves, but we gather here today to make a resounding and joyful noise for this revolution, for this new day where heavy becomes light, all body becomes dancer, all sprit becomes bird.

As a human with a developed creative praxis, I wish to share my praxis with my consanguinity, particularly my progenitors. I have always enjoyed their support, but I wish to concretize this support with their attendance at an esthetic conflagration of mine, to spark their engagement with my mature, developed praxis. Is it an imposition to make this request or is this within the bounds of fealty?

In one sense, I understand this desire to include one’s progenitors in the audience of one’s praxis, but it seems strange to act on this desire. It is the duty of each generation to push the conversation across centuries forward, strongly forward. Our work should seem alien, even unintelligible to our progenitors. We should be addressing the readers of the next century, not the previous one.

Few things are less polite that to force our interlocutors into a conversation in which they have no role. Should you truly desire to inflict impolitely upon your progenitors, their superannuated infirmity should offer ample opportunity. If you lack the creativity to find such a mollia tempora fandi in the plentiful season of their winter years, then I doubt the strength of your praxis, reader.

While we may wish to bathe in the nostalgic waters of our progenitors’ approval, such an action is infantilizing, a baptism in putrid and standing waters. You must throw out this foul liquid, and be certain to include your infantilized self with it.

I have recently inherited a seignority of substantial value. What obligations do I have as a newly pecunious member of society? I do not wish to merely enjoy material luxury, but I am unsure of what action I should take in a social sphere.

Do not evade your newfound noblesse, but use it to the ends of greater absurdity in the world. Find the deepest well of unreason in yourself and let it gush forth like a geyser. This is the greatest time to break from the human, all too human. It has been an assumption since the beginning of philosophy that humans were the sole bearers of reason. We must recognize this not as unique gift of the unfolding of the universe, but as the chief hurdle separating us from potential becomings.

I, for one, have never seen a walrus ride a moose. I have never seen an emu, or a bird of any kind, steer a gondola. In my time on earth, I have never seen a bear direct traffic. Use your newfound plenitude to populate the human word with animal actors. Steal these animals from reputable zoological institutes with a gusto only seen in fiction and employ them casually in a major metropolis.

With great frequency, I prepare and present esthetic conflagrations of many kinds. A recent event went very poorly. The audience constituted very few, the performers were recompensed very poorly, and the venue’s staff were clearly uninterested in the program. Their disparaging comments were even audible over a particularly profound cello solo. What can I do to redress this failing with the performers? What recompense can I expect from this contumelious staff?

Burn down this venue.

I recently offended a colleague. I was informed of this breech of politeness by another interlocutor. I did not take this transpicuous indication to initiate an apology. I have, in fact, done nothing to address this incircumspection. Now that a number of weeks have passed, is a verbal apology too little? What can I do to redress my deviation from decorum?

Etiquette exists to prevent us from standing on such spindleshanks as your finding yourself, dear reader. Etiquette is the court of anarchy. The observation of politeness prevents the necessity of a stronger juridical structure.

You are correct, reader, than an apology will not do at this hour. The window is closed, and it cannot be reopened. It must be broken into.

You must find another way to injure this party, well beyond the scope of your original faux pas. Perform a strong and severe action; induce some kind of cranial trauma. That may be the only way to guarantee that your interlocutor no longer remembers your initial infraction. You may then promptly apologize for both.