It little profits that an idle man
by this blank screen, amongst these barren disks,
matched by an ageless vice
I Tweet and roll unequal blogs unto a “Book of Face”
that sorts and stores and feeds and knows not me
at least not if I’ve got noscript configured right.
I could probably pastiche the whole poem, but I’m not sure it’s quite the best use of my time just now, and besides, Tennyson deserves better.
The fate of “Ulysses” in the hands of people who have never actually done anything with their lives–critics–is a curious thing, as it is a poem about someone who has spent his entire life doing things of note by someone who was no slouch in that department himself.
There is a currently popular and quite ridiculous line of attack–I use the word advisedly–that suggests that the Ulysses of the poem is somehow bad for a) recognizing that he’s really, really badly suited to the job he was through no fault of his own born into and b) recognizing that his son Telemachus is much better suited to it than he is and c) recognizing that there is still “some work of noble note” available for him to do as an alternative.
Just why anyone would think any of that was in any way bad is not clear. Is it wrong to recognize your limitations and pass a job you suck at on to a person much better suited to it, who would no doubt not just do it better but enjoy it more, while you go off and do what you are good at? If so, why?
That anyone would accept such an absurd proposition uncritically is a sad commentary on the state of critical commentary. Or maybe I’m just getting old.