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A REPORT FROM THE PHANTOM ZONE

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By STEVE AISHMAN

Somewhere along the way, rules got a bad name. People began to associate rules with authority and oppression of freedom. Rules are now seen as antiquated obstacles to individualism and progress.

Artists in particular decided that following any rules meant total subordination of personal liberties to potentially dangerous social institutions. Artists now fear that if any rules are allowed to even be uttered without immediately being contradicted, that there will be a return to social domination like the infamous degenerate art exhibition of 1937 or Lenin’s Izo-Narkompros where totalitarian social institutions attempted to dictate the rules of art for everyone in society.

The notion that rules can function as efficient ways of passing knowledge that require judgment before following and not blind adherence seems to have withered as fear of totalitarianism has risen.

A total rejection of all rules is fueled by fear. Fear of loss of individuality, fear of loss of freedom, fear of loss of the notion of self, fear of loss of liberty, etc. Perhaps the fear is well founded, or perhaps there is nothing wrong with rules as long as the focus is on judgment, not adherence.

Rules are not meant to be broken; they are meant to be guides that the informed can choose to follow or break depending on the situation, not just always broken.

Here are some rules that may evoke vehement objection or vigorous endorsement. Either way, they are not meant to apply to every situation all the time. They are meant (as all rules are) to give a framework for the application of judgment.


Be careful with irony in e-mails.

If someone is carrying a heavy package, hold the door.

Avoid gossip.

Don’t text while driving.

Don’t pose for a photo with a drink in your hand.

Facebook should not be used for a therapy session.

Keep e-mails short.

Let passengers off the train first before you get on.

Don’t forward hoaxes.

Re-size pictures before putting them in e-mails.

If people follow you on Twitter, it’s polite to “follow” them back.

Don’t give your business card to just anyone.

Never ask someone if they are pregnant.

Have nothing to do with standing ovations unless a performance is actually close to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Don’t hand out a postcard for your opening at someone else’s art opening.

Be on time.

Don’t walk into a gallery with your portfolio.

Replace your divots.

Don’t sabotage other’s efforts at creativity.

Be accountable for your actions.

Don’t send invitations to people who don’t know you.

Don’t be social in the bathroom.

Try to offer seats to those who you think need them.

What’s rude in life is rude on Twitter.

If you are in a store to use the free Wi-Fi, buy something.

Try to avoid interrupting conversations.

No matter how well trained your dog is, put your dog on a leash when near strangers.

Avoid profanity.

Don’t spam.

Exit taxis on the sidewalk side only.

Always be kind to the wait staff, no matter what happens (and tip well).

Don’t buy purposely loud motor vehicles.

Don’t litter.

Don’t talk on your cell-phone in the checkout line.

The food at art openings is not a buffet.


If you can think of any you want to add, please add them in the comment section.


Degenerate Art Exhibit image found here.

Protest image found here.


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About Author

Steve Aishman is a former resident of the Phantom Zone. Since his escape he has been a regular contributor Big RED & Shiny.

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