Embracing the art of farting around in life and baseball

In a world obsessed with efficiency and productivity, we often forget the intrinsic value of simply enjoying what we do—whether it’s playing baseball, creating art, or living our daily lives. The sentiment that “we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different,” a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, resonates deeply with this notion. It challenges the relentless pursuit of productivity, advocating instead for a life filled with joy and spontaneity.

This idea is vividly expressed in Phil Huckelberry’s recent post, “Phthursday Musings: Baseball and Maximum Effort,” where he discusses the pressures of constant performance in baseball and parallels this with other professional realms like education and healthcare. Phil critiques the societal expectation to always give maximum effort, pointing out that such demands can lead to burnout and diminish the joy found in these activities.

My own reflections on Vonnegut’s quote initially stemmed from a playful personal saying, “My art likes to fart.”

My art likes to fart at Dominican University. A continuing series of placing “my art likes to fart” inside bathrooms of college art departments.

This phrase, while whimsical, underscores a critical view of art—and life—suggesting that not all pursuits need to serve a productive purpose. Sometimes, the value lies in the act itself, in the pleasure and exploration it brings, rather than the outcome.

Phil’s musings on baseball echo this sentiment. He observes how the game has transformed, with young players facing immense pressure to perform at their peak, leading to a rise in injuries like the UCL tears that necessitate Tommy John surgery. This shift not only affects the players but also changes the experience for fans and families. The game that once brought people together for leisure and enjoyment now carries a weight of high stakes and intense competition.

Linking back to Vonnegut’s philosophy, I see a parallel in how we, as fans and participants in various facets of life, choose to engage with our passions. Phil notes the lost simplicity and joy in watching a game of baseball, where the emphasis was once on the experience rather than just the outcome. This idea resonates with Jenny Odell’s book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy,” which advocates for stepping back from the constant need to be productive. Odell suggests that by doing so, we reclaim our time and mental space, allowing us to enjoy activities for their own sake.

In baseball, like in life, there are moments meant for maximum effort, but not every moment requires such intensity. Sometimes, the best experiences come from a relaxed day at the ballpark, where the score isn’t as important as the feel of the sun and the sound of the crowd. The same can be said for art, which doesn’t always have to be about conveying a profound message or achieving technical perfection. Sometimes, it’s about the process, the mess, and the fun—like a position player pitching in a major league game, not because they are the best pitcher, but because it brings a unique joy and novelty to the moment.

Ultimately, both Phil’s reflections and Vonnegut’s teachings urge us to reconsider our priorities and find a balance between striving for excellence and allowing ourselves to simply be. It’s about understanding that it’s okay to step back and embrace the art of “farting around”—enjoying life and our pursuits without the constant pressure to optimize every moment. After all, as Phil concludes, baseball is not just a game; it’s a reflection of life’s broader plays, where sometimes, the best strategy is to relax and enjoy the game.

Footnotes

I’d like to note that I while I’m advocating for art as a process, I equally advocate for making art that is about the final product. Art should communicate to others. It shouldn’t just be some esoteric result of making art for the sake of making art. Art should have us mull over and ponder what it means to us. What it means to someone else.

And baseball isn’t just about sitting back and enjoying the game. For me, baseball is all about farting around. Not tracking the latest wins, videos, or home runs. Instead it’s farting around in the baseball’s past. Looking around at random baseball stats. Reading random baseball stories. The history of baseball does that. This is what baseball is to me.

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