Kurt Vonnegut has always been one of my favorite writers. Upon my first encounter with him I operated under the false assumption that he was, at heart, an absurdist.

How else might one qualify the plotline of his most famous work “Slaughterhouse Five,” with its space aliens and Hollywood starlets and simple everyman swooped up into a human zoo on a distant planet?

But, over time, as the absurdity of the world continues to show no signs of deceleration, I have come to another conclusion — that Vonnegut was a sober chronicler of his times.

And I wish he were alive today to comment on or maybe base another novel on the fact that in the year 2016, a person described as a “European businessman” just plucked down a cool 1 million Euros ($1,086,950 in U.S. dollars when this commerce took place) for a photo of a potato.

 Now, I am Irish and I have DNA that really likes potatoes. I like them baked, fried, mashed — just about any way you want to make them. But I cannot fathom a circumstance whereby I might be tempted to purchase a real potato I could eat for a million bucks, let alone spend that kind of cash on a photograph of a potato … and a rather unappetizing looking photograph at that.

I may not know what possesses someone to spend that kind of money on a single photograph, but I do know what this photo, by allegedly renowned photographer Kevin Abosch, is worth. It’s worth over a million dollars because that is what someone was willing to pay.

To know why, is something that escapes me — to a point.

I guess the next logical, or illogical, question when the topic is a million dollar photograph of a potato, is … is it art?

That’s a question asked from the Guggenheim in New York to a sidewalk gallery in Santa Monica. Historically, artists have been wont to reimagine and reengineer public perceptions of art, but things, especially since the dawn of the last century, have gotten a little out of hand.

The French Impressionist movement of the 19th century ruffled feathers and initiated howls of decadence from disapproving critics who viewed the then-new way of painting with disdain and disgust.

These works now look downright traditional. As to their artistic merit, I am not schooled well enough in the fine arts to have much of an opinion, but I have always kind of liked French Impressionism.

It met my number one personal prerequisite for me to consider anything art — I must be looking at something, whether painting, sculpture or other medium, that I cannot replicate. Therefore, as brilliant as people tell me Jackson Pollack was, I believe I am perfectly capable of pouring cans of paint onto a huge canvas and making a thorough mess of things.

And if stacking cans of beans in a pyramid shape is art, then every grocery bagger in America is another Warhol.

Frankly, it doesn’t take an art historian or someone with advanced degrees to see that, as far as modern expressions of art go, one need look no further for reflection than “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Anderson.

A few years back on CBS news (I believe it might have been “60 Minutes”) they did a little social experiment in New York. They rented out an art gallery and exhibited finger paintings by five year olds from a local public school which they presented as the work of new artists on the rise. They invited New York art critics, had the right wine and cheese, and secretly filmed the critics scrutinizing the work of kindergarteners.

When the reporter led one of the critics down the path to his own destruction, prodding him to give his opinion on this new artist the critic found particularly gifted, the reporter went in for the kill and explained that the painting was done by a 5 year old.

Robert Brennan has been a professional writer for more than 30 years, including many years in the television industry.