I was talking to a friend today about a rather prolific poetry blogger X (male) who has a rather ardent fondness for a rather annoying poet Y (female) and wrote a number of blog posts along the lines of, “anyone who doesn’t like poet Y just doesn’t like strong women.” Anyway. The posts went on for a long time, and basically convinced me that Poetry Blogger X wanted to sleep with annoying poet Y, without telling me much of what was of value about annoying poet Y’s writing. For example, one virtue of annoying poet Y was her attempt at writing a manifesto—not that he said the manifesto was any good—just how wonderful that someone of our generation was writing one. Uh-huh. There is a reason that the age of the manifesto has passed, and it’s because only a moron thinks that poetry should do only one thing. I was particularly angry about annoying poet Y because having taken a class to hear Poetry Blogger X and Unknown Poet Y read together—meaning that I had provided about a quarter of her audience—annoying poet Y posted on her blog that she was offended that more people hadn’t come to hear her read. You’re welcome, annoying poet Y. She also referred to the audience as being “cowed” by her performance. I’ve never felt bad about having *not* heckled a poet before.
So, anyway, as I was telling my friend this long story (the topic was “The Second Worst Poetry Reading I Ever Attended and How It Convinced Me to Stay OUT of the Poetry Blogosphere”), my friend said, well, you know, Poetry Blogger X does work very hard.
This is true. Poetry Blogger X works hard. Between poems, blog posts, essays, and reviews, he probably works more in a day than I do in week.
But wouldn’t it be nice if he didn’t? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone just worked less?
Law Firms right now are letting their lawyers take a year off at a reduced salary. Unions are working to reduce everyone’s hours, lest anyone be fired. What if we began to actually value leisure, not as something we pay for and make fungible (saving for a trip to Hawaii or London or a week at EPCOT Center), but as an ethic. What if we all said that we should spend time being citizens, or staying home to cuddle, or just recuperating and chilling and thinking. I think that Academia is very rare in that they value the idea of the sabbatical—that one works better when not working—or at least that one’s obligations should be relaxed periodically. I often think that in America it’s very hard to be a good citizen, because we’re all so busy—and yet an informed citizenry is the very engine on which democracy runs. So what’s so great about Poetry Blogger X writing about poetry faster than I can read about poetry? What’s so great about the Collected Poem’s of Frank O’Hara? Wouldn’t’ you rather have a selected? Have you ever been glad that you sat through the mega-extended director’s cut? Wouldn’t you rather see the shorter version?
Obviously, this is a modest proposal. What I’m really asking for is less of what I don’t like in the world. But really, wouldn’t it be great if we all did less? If someone said, Yeah, Jason is always so interesting and relaxed. I guess it’s that Protestant Leisure Ethic.