Monday, May 2, 2011

Best minds

I've seen this Businessweek article circulated a lot recently. The quotable quotation with which it's inevitably accompanied is the following:
"The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads," he says. "That sucks."
It seems to me that there's something significant about the fact that it's a citation of Ginsberg. There's an implicit juxtaposition of the two fates, thinking about how to make people click ads and being destroyed by madness, that manages to draw power from the unlikeness of the two terms, while at the same time suggesting a certain commensurability: there is a certain madness to spending all your time trying to get people to click ads. This is not a poetic Howl; it's a Businessweek article--not a howl, in short, but a tweet. The many retweets, however, seem to suggest that it's what we've got.

What, indeed, are the best minds of my generation up to? Implicit in the very question is a nostalgia for a time when they read poetry.

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