On my way home from work today, I passed a Volkswagen New Beetle, a reissue of the original 1938 version, which Hitler contracted in a desire for a cheap, simple, and mass-produced “people’s car” (literally “volkswagen,” in German), which incidentally — or rather, obliviously — gained immense popularity in the ’60s with the “flower child” generation, who, had they known they were driving a somewhat Nazi car, might’ve opted to walk instead. Part of its marketing campaign involves a little plastic vase at the dash designed to hold a flower, implicitly a daisy, having passed it in the account in mention, except this particular daisy was wilted and dried. I imagined our would-be feel good owner clipping the flower sometime last month, earnestly displaying it like the sole exclamation point of their week, perhaps in anticipation of a date, or a day on the beach with some friends. We define our sense of failure, not just as consumers but as people, both by the feelings we lack and are unable to summon in others. If depression is defined by how unhappy we are, or at least perceive ourselves to be, then happiness as a root concept is culpable. A flower is essentially a hermaphroditic slut, her entire purpose to draw the insect near, as an unwitting agent of his seed. The best insects fly far away from their lovers, as if in shock and fear, pollinating untraversed lands. She could get in her car and never come back, and I would wish her well.

I imagine a web developer tasked with writing the code which keeps track of how many times one visits—in the same browser, from the same I.P. address—The New York Times, 10 “free” articles being their limit in any given month, pairing up with the marketing executive who came up with a perfect sentence to both ingratiate and solicit themselves to the reader in a pop-up subscription ad. Short of “look[ing] like someone who appreciates a good story,” I possess the countenance of a deflated consumer who only wonders why the advertising revenue (e.g. from Marc Jacobs, State Farm, etc.) is not enough, why—in the name of journalism and human knowledge at large—they don’t relinquish their fodder to the common good. Of their austere “The Gray Lady” nickname, which references their historically high ratio of copy to graphics, perhaps they felt, and still believe, that a if a picture indeed paints a 1,000 words, then all the more reason to write 6,000 (that’s 6 pristine pictures, about 1/5th of a BuzzFeed “article,” on which I chronically click hoping to smiley emoji). The Death of Content finds its elegy in categories lol, wtf, and omg, as if each of us, in our spiritual asthma, were so short of breath that we had to abridge our simplest feelings into tags. To open Proust or Tolstoy, their mildewy spines cracking, spread open as naïve legs, is a kind of inverse rape. We surrender our lustful power to their boredoms, the lonely mind of endless reading. If click bait is a bird of paradise screeching for its lover, maybe I do need a good story. Implicitly, in complicity, the promise of tragedy. 

I imagine a web developer tasked with writing the code which keeps track of how many times one visits—in the same browser, from the same I.P. address—The New York Times, 10 “free” articles being their limit in any given month, pairing up with the marketing executive who came up with a perfect sentence to both ingratiate and solicit themselves to the reader in a pop-up subscription ad. Short of “look[ing] like someone who appreciates a good story,” I possess the countenance of a deflated consumer who only wonders why the advertising revenue (e.g. from Marc Jacobs, State Farm, etc.) is not enough, why—in the name of journalism and human knowledge at large—they don’t relinquish their fodder to the common good. Of their austere “The Gray Lady” nickname, which references their historically high ratio of copy to graphics, perhaps they felt, and still believe, that a if a picture indeed paints a 1,000 words, then all the more reason to write 6,000 (that’s 6 pristine pictures, about 1/5th of a BuzzFeed “article,” on which I chronically click hoping to smiley emoji). The Death of Content finds its elegy in categories lol, wtf, and omg, as if each of us, in our spiritual asthma, were so short of breath that we had to abridge our simplest feelings into tags. To open Proust or Tolstoy, their mildewy spines cracking, spread open as naïve legs, is a kind of inverse rape. We surrender our lustful power to their boredoms, the lonely mind of endless reading. If click bait is a bird of paradise screeching for its lover, maybe I do need a good story. Implicitly, in complicity, the promise of tragedy.