In elementary school, I got into a scuffle with another girl over ghosts. She said spirits whispered to her at night. I found it hard to believe she was worthy of their secrets, and told her so. The argument escalated into a fight and after the teachers broke it up they placed us in “time out.” Bored, I snuck into a corner to spy on them. I overheard one of them say that I had authority issues. “Veronica is downright arrogant,” Mrs. Bradley agreed. That was the first time the word was introduced to my lexicon. For several years that followed, I took pride in being arrogant because I confused it with the definition of recalcitrance.
Once I learned what it meant, I wondered if the characterization was somehow misapplied. After all, wasn’t my classmate the one elevating her self-importance? On the other hand, if in fact she really did speak to ghosts and I chose not to believe her simply out of personal dislike, well then...
There are different types of arrogance: sometimes it is born out of success, other times it masks insecurity. Additionally, arrogance is often an overused label, slapped onto an individual others don’t fully understand. Jorge de la Garza, the artist who contributed collages for the poetry section, is occasionally quiet at social events and often leaves early—not because of any inflated self-importance, but because sometimes he prefers to spend the night by himself. Investigating the narrow division between narcissism and self-reflection, his elegant collages hint at a don’t-hate-me-because-I’m-beautiful brand of arrogance.
Of course, there are worse qualities one can possess than arrogance. Submissiveness, laziness, and apathy for instance can be problematic in this society, especially when we consider that, whether we like it or not, arrogant types tend to get pretty far in the world.
At the same time, it can be incredibly dangerous (consider the previous Presidential administration). Often, we turn to art to hone in on just how ugly arrogance can be. Phillip Guston’s figurative paintings demonstrate arrogance at its worst—the way it gains momentum and ultimately corrupts the powerful. It was with Guston in mind that I viewed the drawings of Orion Extreme, a thirteen-year-old boy from Nashville who contributed to our fiction section. His drawings are raw research and take us to one of the main sources of arrogance: the American classroom.
Editor, Fawlt Magazine