Note: This a spontaneous rewrite I did of Alan Ginsberg’s classic poem “Howl“, adapted to our 21st century Wired culture. It started out as a rant against management consulting, inspired by this piece of “thought leadership“. The rest just flowed spontaneously and so I decided to rewrite the whole thing on the spot, tweet by tweet. People seemed to like it and I included several of their suggestions on the fly. Thanks to Kelsey D. Atherton and Deb Chachra for the Storified and Exquisite Tweets live captures, which capture more of the live feeling of it all.
I: I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by PowerPoints, starving hysterical for content… …dragging themselves through the timelines at dawn looking for an angry fix. Angel-headed consultants burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night. Who with bonuses & suits & hollow-eyes & boredom sat up tweeting in the supernatural darkness Of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating “disruption”. Who bared their brains to Management under the BART and saw Schumpeterian angels staggering on live/work roofs illuminated Who passed through universities with radiant cool laptops hallucinating New York and Facebook-light tragedy among the scholars of war Who were expelled from the co-working spaces for crazy & publishing obscene reports on the expense accounts of the skull Who cowered in bespoke rooms in silk underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through their earbuds Who got busted in their pubic timelines returning through Palo Alto with a stolen investor’s pitch deck Who ate cronuts in AirBnB’s or drank Soylent in Silicon Valley, death, or purgatoried their passions night after night With dreams, with business models, with waking nightmares, smoothies and egos and endless balls. Incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud services & lightning in the mind Leaping toward poles of London & Dubai, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between. Taurine solidities of halls, backyard greenwash accelerator dawns, Vine drunkenness over rooftops, storefront boroughs of C-Suite joyride neon Blinking Blackberry lights, sun & moon and tree vibrations in the whispering husks of Park Slope, ashcan rantings & kind boss light of mind Who chained themselves to consultancies for the endless ride from MBA to IPO On Modafinil until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering soul-wracked and battered bleak of brain All drained of brilliance in the drear light of New. Who sank all night in submarine darknets and Boingboing floated out and sat through the stale Red Bull afternoon in desolate Olive Garden Listening to the crunk and boom on the hydrogen jukebox, who talked continuously seventy hours from office to client site to bar to hotel A lost battalion of platonic conversationalists avoiding the queues with Uber and jumping windowsills of Empire State out of the moon Yacketysax screaming tromboning Snapchatting facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars Whole intellects disgorged with Occulus for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the clickbait cast on the pavement Who vanished into nowhere on the 2 am flight (business class) leaving a trail of ambiguous promises, platitudes, and postcards Suffering introspective sweats & Tangerian bone-grindings & migraines of Starbucks under junk-withdrawal in Heathrow’s bleak furnished room Who wandered around and around at midnight in the hotel lobby, wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts Who lit hand-rolled cigarettes in Ubers Ubers Ubers racketing through sand toward lonesome call centres in grandfather night Who studied Porter and Ries and Godin and TED, telepathy and hip hop because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet, Who loned it through the corridors of McKinsey & Bain, Booz & PwC, seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels Who thought they were only mad when the Economist gleamed in supernatural ecstasy Who jumped in limousines with the Chairman in Shangai on the impulse of winter midnight take-over, smalltown gains, tax-free. Who lounged arrogant & lonesome through Hong Kong seeking karaoke or sex or noodle soup And followed the brilliant Emirati to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took a container ship to Africa Who disappeared into the huts of Belize leaving behind nothing but an arrest warrant, an interview with Wired, & an homegrown intel network Code scattered in fireplace, who reappeared on the Playa being investigating by the FBI in beards and shorts and frosted tips With big pacifist sunglasses sexy in their dark skin emailing incomprehensible missives and status updates Who burned giant wooden effigies in the desert protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism (from an RV) Who distributed Singularitarian pamphlets at the Hub weeping and undressing while the sirens of Gaza City wailed them down, and wailed down And the ferries full or refugees also wailed, who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before Border Control The machinery of other skeletons, who slapped each other on the back & shrieked with delight via CCTV feed Committing no crime but their own wild take-away ambition and intoxication Who howled on their knees in the incubator and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and business plans Who let themselves be fucked by investors, Angel funds, and screamed with joy Who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the Angel investors, caresses of Atlantic and MENASA love Who traded in the morning in the evenings in airline lounges and the grass of indoor parks and members clubs Scattering their frameworks freely to whom ever come who may, who summarised endlessly trying to win the job But wound up with a sob behind a partition in the One and Only, when the blond & naked currency trader came to pierce them with clawbacks Who lost their loved ones to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the multinational dollar The one eyed webcam that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing …but sit on its ass and snip the intellectual golden threads off Buzzfeed’s loom. Who concatenated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the first page Continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate acquisitions And came eluding the last gyzym of self-consciousness, who sweetened the deal with a million in options Trembling under a sky the colour of television tuned to a dead channel, red eyed but prepared to sweeten the resolution of the sunrise Flashing ROMs under barns and naked without crypto, who went out trolling through Colorado with a myriad stolen accounts Secret hero of these poems, consultant and Adonis of Mountain View – joy to the memory of his innumerable PowerPoints for empty accounts And boxcars, shipping containers, media centres, rickety cabs, on mountaintops and VR caves And especially secret Gigafactories, solipsisms of Elons, & homepage alleys too, who faded out in vast sordid gradient, shifted in dreams And, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basement parties, hung-over with heartless boxed wine And horrors of Fifth Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to head offices, who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the flooded docks Waiting for an Uber from the East River to open to a car full of steam-heat and wifi Who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of police drones Their heads shall be crowned with unique identifiers and never lost in oblivion Who ate the organic lamb stew of the hipster imagination or digested the synthetic crab at the muddy bottom of the sushi boats of Bowery Who wept at the romance of the markets with their puts full of shorts, longs, hedges, and bad taste Who sat in their boxed seats breathing in the darkness under the camera lens, and rose up to build a Big Dog in their lofts Who coughed on the sixtieth floor of the Burj, crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by blue crates of Emininesque theology Who Kindled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning timelines were stanzas of gibberish Who cooked lab grown animals lung heart feet tail Qorn & tortillas dreaming of the pure organic, locally sourced, carbon neutral kingdom Who plunged themselves under food trucks looking for a signal, who threw their phones off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity Outside of your time zone, & wearable devices fell on their heads every day for the next decade Who cut their phone lines three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open vintage stores Where they thought they were growing old and cried. Who were burned alive in their IKB suits (#0033CC) on Madison Avenue amid blasts of wobbling bass And the tanked-up models clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising And the mustard gas of sinister Buzzfeed editors, or were run down by the drunken self-driving cars of Absolute Reality, Who jumped off the social feeds (this actually happened) and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly haze of Shenzhen Soylent alleyways & firetrucks, not even one open wifi router, who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the bullet train window Jumped in the filthy Yangtze, leaped on imported labor, cried all over the street, danced on broken iPhones barefoot Smashed hard drives of nostalgic American 1990s trip hop, finished the Red Bull and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet Moans in their earbuds and the blast of colossal shipping trucks who barreled down the highways of the past Journeying to the each other’s Prius’ – Guantanamo Bay jail-solitude watch or Brighton dub step incarnations Who flew cross Atlantic seventeen hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision on Skype Who journeyed to Brooklyn, who died in Brooklyn, who came back to Brooklyn & waited in vain, Who watched over Brooklyn & brooded & loned in Brooklyn & finally went away to find out the Time, & now Brooklyn is lonesome for her heroes Who fell on their knees in hopeless teleconferences praying for each other’s salvation & light & biscuits Until the soul illuminated its hair for a second, and crashed through our minds in the conference room waiting for impossible clients With golden heads and the charm of marketing in their hearts who tortured some folks and sang sweet blues to Abu Ghraib Who retired to Dubai to cultivate a habit, or Singapore to tender the Buddha or the Channel Islands for havens, or Harvard for Narcissus Who demanded sanity trials accusing the Occulus of hypnotism & were left with their insanity & their Bitcoins & a hung jury Who threw triangle sandwiches at LSE lecturers on currency markets & subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse With shaven heads and harlequin Vines, demanding instantaneous forgetting but were given instead… .. the concrete void of the Streisand Effect, 120,000 RT’s, occupational therapy, pingpong & amnesia and a Kony campaign Who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic table device, resting briefly in catatonia,returning years later truly bald and rich
Barak whose smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Bechtel whose love is endless oil and stone! Klaus Schwab whose soul is electricity and banks!
Benioff whose poverty is the specter of genius! @neiltyson whose fate is a cloud of sexy hydrogen! Minksy whose name is the Mind!
Manhattan in whom I sit lonely! Mulholland in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in @vkhosla! Lacklove and loveless in Moloch!
M.I.A. who entered our souls early! MC-A in whom we are consciousness without bodies! Mike Banks who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!
Moloch whom we abandon! Wake up in Moloch! LIVE streaming out of the sky! Moloch! Moloch!
Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitalists! demonic industrialists! spectral nationalists!
Invincible marketing! granite credit cards! monstrous JDAMs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to the Forbes List! Mac Minis, iPhones, tons!
Airlifting the smart city to Heaven which exists & is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! delusions! bankruptcies! regime change! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the Tigris river! Dreams! adorations!
illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of politically correct bullshit! Scientific breakthroughs! Sequencing!
Market flips and crucifixions! Gone down with the English floods! High tides! Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides!
Ebola! Hive minds! New loves! Mad generation! $1 billion dollars for Instragram! Down on the rocks of Time! Real holy laughter in the river!
They saw it all! Synthetic biology, the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof to solitude!
Singularity! waving! roaring! Climate changing! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!