Tuesday, February 21, 2023

In These Prints We Read Purpose and Panic

An essayist observes the problem
With meritocracy tends to be
That strivers are striving to escape,

To succeed by earning and earning
Their way to unmeritocratic
Generational wealth past striving,

To earn their final prize: to not earn.
This rings true—not just for capital,
However—what is any striving

But striving to get beyond striving?
Life can’t stop trying to stop trying.
Scrutinize all the fossilized tracks,

Backward and forward, this way and that,
Human, mammalian, or reptilian,
Way back to the Ediacaran—

And sense alternating strategies
For aspirants escaping striving—
One leaning in, lunging, on its toes,

The other falling back, on its heels,
Bodily dropping out of the race
Only to lapse into another.

The hermits escape the nets of dust
By lying as still as possible,
Subsiding into coarse poverty,

Which guarantees trying not to starve,
While the meritocrats yoke themselves
To runaway ambition and work

Away their lives to parasitize,
And the masses in between them strive
To not end trampled by the wayside.

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