Monday, July 15, 2019

Nurse the Hate: The Employment Dilemma

There was a friend of mine that recently sent me a photo from inside the White House that he took while at work.  His job carries across into doing work associated with the current administration along the lines of PR and Event Planning.  While he is a bit more ambivalent about politics than I am, I would think the extreme racist views taken by this administration would at least dampen the normally exciting experience of being at the White House.  Then again, I am sure there were all kinds of worker bees that were excited to be doing gigs for Hitler.  Think about all those banners hanging at the Nuremberg Rallies.  There had to be a company that produced and hung them.  Too bad there wasn’t social media back then of a photo of Otto the banner sales guy taking a selfie with Hitler in the distance.  “Say what you want about his views, but Uncle Adolf knows how to throw a rally!  #Nuremberg #rallytime #greattobehere”

At a certain point, financial success often leads to the hexing crossroad of personal beliefs versus money.  Would I work on the Hitler re-election campaign?  No, but then again, no one has asked me and dangled out a hefty paycheck.  I like to think I am a man with a firm moral compass, but then again, I have demonstrated a certain moral flexibility when times got a little murky.  “Hey, I know Hitler has some problems with the Jews and gypsies, but that’s all just talk to get his base riled up.  Plus, if I don’t sell him these banners, someone else will anyway.  You should have seen all the shrimp they had in the VIP lounge!  They gave me preferred parking too!”

I just finished a great novel yesterday, “Leaving the Atocha Station” by Ben Lerner.  The novel is about a poet that feels like a fraud that is doing a fellowship in Spain.  I have to say, being a poet on a fellowship in Spain sounds like a much better job than clapping politely while the highest elected official in our nation spews racism.  I can visualize myself writing questionable poetry and trying to provide oblique answers to thoughtful questions about my art.  In a way, it’s a natural lateral move from my rock singer/sales current lifestyle.   How hard can it be to write a passable poem? 

Seven green bottles
The relief of sunset
The aching hours
Devour to the husk
The rusty lightning rod
The shivering pain
And again

I wrote that in 14 seconds.  That at least looks like a poem.  All I need is one person to suggest, “this guy needs a fellowship” and I am on my way.  Sure, I will know I am a fraud, but I already think that anyway.  The last thing anyone needs is another poet with too much confidence.  First, no one reads poetry.  No one.  Second, a poet that believes they are important while their art form is elusive and unpopular is a dangerous combination.  When the overconfident poet fails to make any impact, the poet believes that he is already elevated into a stratosphere above the common man who cannot understand his complexity and therefore all criticism is unwarranted.  It’s like when a bunch of horrible metal bands hang out together and convince themselves they are awesome despite plain evidence to the contrary.

As a result, as a poet with a fellowship in Spain, I could saunter around immune to criticism and hang out with a small group of aficionados that think I am a big deal because I am on the fellowship in the first place.  “Is he good?”  He must be!  He’s on a fellowship!  This is infinitely better than smiling politely while the leader in our supposed democracy talks about “round ups” and “sending them back where they came from”, though the money is not good in poetry as I understand it.  It’s a bit of a quandary. 

Ultimately, I will start on a new book today and “Leaving the Atocha Station” will slowly fade from memory.  The bad news is that the new book is a translated French novel from Michel Houellebecq, so I will probably morph into some kind of half-assed provocateur smoking Gauloises and talking at length about the Vichy as I offer up dismissive arguments about nothing.  It shouldn’t be a far swing from my poetry fellowship dreams and is certainly much better than working for an Authoritarian Goon, though once again the pay will be subpar.  Eh?  Que pouvez-vous faire?  


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