Smart young things joining the workforce soon discover that, although they have been selected for their intelligence, they are not expected to use it. They will be assigned routine tasks that they will consider stupid. If they happen to make the mistake of actually using their intelligence, they will be met with pained groans from colleagues and polite warnings from their bosses. After a few years of experience, they will find that the people who get ahead are the stellar practitioners of corporate mindlessness.
After two months of the most god-awful poetry, I became mean to those around me. I kicked my bicycle whenever the chain fell off; standing on the sidewalk, I kicked and kicked. One time, I was so mad at how my own new poem ended, I drove my car straight onto a restaurant’s lawn, and insisted to the policewoman that I receive a moving violation. I felt as though I had enlisted in a poetry assassination squad, a private cohort of beauty slayers, and my code name had become Buzz Kill.
But nevertheless, all the while, keeping a working notebook in which I recorded my abjection, I began to clarify what had ruined my work too often, and especially the kinds of go-to conventions of free verse I had inherited, and learned to teach.
Halfway through Tim Lawrence’s “Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor: 1980-1983,” a six-hundred-page book about four years in the life of a dozen New York City clubs, there’s a short chapter called “Shrouded Abatements and Mysterious Deaths.” It describes two forces that began warping New York City in the early eighties, neither of them musical, and it elegantly explains how a period of artistic flourishing was squashed.
Your food may claim to be “natural” and “healthy,” but don’t believe it. Even a granola bar can stretch the truth.