The Cheese Monkeys

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"Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don't start measuring her limbs." (Pablo Picasso, 1870) When one looks at a piece that they believe to be art, they stare, they admire, they criticize and then they move on to the next piece. Not everyone will say that the same thing is art, just like not all people believe rap is actual music. Art is what you make of it; it's what's inside ones soul. Himillsy, in The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd, followed her own soul in everything including art, and taking anyone she felt worthy enough along for the ride. Himillsy Dodd takes art because she can. She drops the classes the teacher is ‘too hard' or the one that does not agree with her views. She cannot take criticism; she must be the one who has the final word, the one that is always right. The almighty Himillsy, in a sense, believes she is above God. Well, she's wrong, way wrong.

Himillsy Dodd is a feminist, a person who craves attention, an alcoholic college student (which is not hard to find these days), and she is a very artistic and lonely girl, even with a boyfriend she cannot confide in and one she argues with constantly. Himillsy loves art, but thinks it is ‘pretentious' as well, which is kind of paradoxical. "I've just had it with this faux-primitivism in the arts. ‘Abstract' daubs. Symbolic, bleak little plays. Junk sculpture, nihilistic, ‘avant-garde' robotic verse. Crude banalities. Is that what we need? Is that what feeds the human heart? Is the human heart ABSTRACT?!" (Kidd, p. 50-51) Well, Hims, maybe it is. Maybe the human heart is as abstract as it can be. The human heart, which in reality is just a muscle the size of one's fist, can metaphorically be what it desires, what it pleases. It does not have to conform to society's ways, but in a lot of cases it does. Our society is lacking a lot of individualism now-a-days, but what society isn't? Society changes daily. What was ‘in' in fashion today is out next week. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Being a size zero was in years ago and now the average size for a woman is fourteen; a good change. If society stayed the same and had the same views day in and day out it would be boring. Like society, if all the art in the world looked like Picasso or Michelangelo then who would keep admiring it. The world needs change because without it, there would be no ‘starving' artists. "A good painter has two main objects to paint, man and the intention of his soul. The former is easy, the latter hard as he has to represent it by the attitude and movement of the limbs." (Leonardo da Vinci, 1515) While most believe da Vinci was one of the greatest painters of all time, one of his quotes needs fixing in a good painter. What is a good painter, Leonardo? While one person may believe Picasso is fantastic, another may believe his work is complete crap. Is he still a good painter? Himillsy would say no, but Himillsy always says no just to be different and stand out. Chip Kidd's novel alone is a work of art, not in just the words he cunningly put together, but in the appearance of the novel itself. The binding contains the words ‘Good is Dead' and ‘Do You See?' when one bends the books pages back and forth. The cover itself is art. It contains no words, just drawings to depict the title of the book, The Cheese Monkeys. Once the first few pages of Kidd's novel are opened, there are things backwards, things said sarcastically, things that make someone think for once. Even without reading the blurb for the book, it intrigues one to pick it up just by its look; that is what art is. Art, by definition, is human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature, according to Webster. Art, in the real sense, is what you make it; just like Dottie Spang, Happy and Hims' art teacher, claims. Though a fictional character, this was the best...
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