I never understood the French desire to retire as soon as possible and then live on. I thought I’d work until the end, each day arising to the orange bankèd fire, a silken full-length gown—my work attire; my blistered fingers to their plow: a pen; a morning hour’s work, a nap, again a forty-minute afternoon; then hire an ungrateful ex-colonial Uber driver to bus my wife and I from our chateaux into some village’s pretty pristine square for the entrecôte reward of any striver and a glass or ten of ’96 Margaux— for if I did not labor, I’d despair.
In some sense, both sides are right, both sides are wrong, and, in the bifurcated politics of urban genderqueers and rural hicks, of fetal stem cell bans and legal bongs, of floury tiktok wives and boys in thongs, in this American moment: nothing sticks; the self-destruct device’s timer ticks toward zero hour, and the nearing thundering song of risen oceans lapping Appalachian foothills murmur in our dreams, and wake, and speak: human failing or God’s grim judgment day? Reason, duty, kindness? Fickle fashion. Fairness compels: in equal measure seek to talk too much with nothing at all to say.
The degree to which Manhattan air is now unseriously suffused with Mary Jane is not a crime, but it’s a crying shame. Has anyone given any thought to how a father—transatlantic, middlebrow— with two young tots might tamp this devilish flame, rhetorically—my dears, all drugs are lame— when, citywide, vom Kind zur worrying Frau, each pair of human lips is closed upon a pipe a piece a joint a glowing vape, greedily enjoying life too much, the smell of day-old piss dispatched, and gone the leaking garbage-scented cityscape, and left behind this brain-befogging crutch.
“Rationality is uncool,” he laments; “it isn’t seen as dope, phat, chill, sick or da bomb”; no attribute of will is more unlikely to be deemed “to rule”; it’s like an outcast in some middle school. You cannot even argue that you cannot kill in pure percentage terms sufficient mill- ions of men to match the Earth’s once miniscule murder rate; Cain’s Abel was one full quarter of the world, for instance; wouldn’t you rather take the odds in Auschwitz with those awful chances? It’s fall. Across each campus days grow shorter; undergrads still kiss and fuck and fake enthusiasm for science’s romances.
Every job will be automated until four remain: lawyer, farmer, dentist, soda jerk; whaleman, scrivener, and grocery clerk; rabbi, car mechanic, David Blaine; professional impersonator of Mark Twain. The rest will be done by one Mechanical Turk with an indefatigable appetite for work; its million metal arms will never strain; its million pinprick eyes will never droop; of course, it’s operated by an actual man from a windowless room in drowning Bangladesh; he gets one thirty second break to poop and eat his lunch before the beautiful tan attack dogs are released to tear his flesh.
When exactly I should retire, or will retire has many complex parts to it: a chronometric set of gears that fit through genius acts of unimaginable skill and ratios whose maddening math would fill vast desert racks of servers cooled and lit by carbon burned by who came after it. What tyrant lizard left by being ill, or turned from prey to watch a meteor descending through the North-American sky? The seas may boil; the air itself may burn; the liquefying stone may crack and roar. A life’s lived best not knowing it will die, instinct alone, and never paused to learn.
Geriatric millennials born
between 1980 and 1985
are best positioned to lead teams that will thrive
in the hybrid workplace; they will never mourn
the lost kitchenette, or get mad at the porn
their OnlyFans teammates left on the shared drive
while fooling eye-movement monitors during a live
webinar; well-trained in irony and scorn,
they’ll do their boomer bosses’ bidding, but
half-heartedly; they’re busy making .gifs,
polluting the Slack with fake nostalgia for
the nineties, pretending they don’t mind the gut
they’ve got from crafty IPAs and spliffs,
barely forty at death’s beatific door
An expert I spoke with highly recommends that America needs to appoint a reality czar: no more lying to your buds at the corner bar; the rack for all of your weirdo Facebook friends. Plenipotentiary in all his means and ends, affixed to Christlike truth like the wise men’s star, remit of heights and depths, the near and far corners of creation, where time or being bends beyond the expanding cone of present light, the baryonic effluence of matter, and the dark deep gravities of truths unseen, unfelt, perfectly wise and gifted with prescient sight, Osiris, God, ayin sof, and holy ark, proclaim on high what he who smelt it dealt.
We’ve got to get checks of fourteen hundred bucks
on top of the six hundred that we’ve already sent;
thirty times twenty that the proles have already spent;
seventy Jacksons for all the lazy fucks.
Sure we said two grand. [Rolls eyes, and ducks.]
Savvy citizens knew what it meant:
one down payment and then one month of rent.
Have we mentioned how much the Republican Party sucks?
Even your saintly Sanders now agrees,
and would you gainsay your wintry mittened-man
by means-testing current truths against the past
positions changed for new realities
gestated in your short attention span?
Enjoy the money. It will be your last.
This could not be more Orwellian.
Simon & Schuster is cancelling my book.
Where a business-flyer otherwise would look
for such civics, now shelves the Machiavellian
secrets of the boardroom, or Hudson’s selling him
mere Mentos. The woke mob won’t brook
my bold dissent. Why? Because I took
my voters’ insurrectionary whim
seriously? My job is to ventriloquize
exactly what the lumpen want to hear,
smuggling their sordid gripes into the fort-
ress of power with my Yale mouth and dead eyes,
alchemizing gripes into career.
This aggression will not stand. See you in court.