By David Kirby
I see you in restaurants, picking at your food, already
disgusted with each other even though you’re just out
of college or still in. Is that because you’re business majors?
You look like business majors. A Ford Foundation
report calls business the default major, saying too many
students select it as a path to a job, not out of curiosity.
You should be curious, young people. Certainly you should
be curious about each other! Yet look at you, playing with
your food. Tristan and Isolde were curious about each other,
as were Lancelot and Guinevere, Héloçse and Abélard,
Paolo and Francesca . . . the list goes on and on. Sure,
all these stories all end horribly, but why do we still
read and teach them and make movies and operas about them
hundreds of years later? Because they tell us everything
we need to know about love, that’s why. In their book
Academically Adrift, sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa
Roksa report that business majors had the weakest gains
during the first two years of college on a national test
of writing and reasoning skills. You young people
are focusing on the bottom line! Just as you’re going to college
to get a job, so you’re choosing a helpmeet who appears
to be above average genetically and won’t embarrass you
at the corporate awards dinner because he or she seems
to know the difference between an escargot and a booger.
But when you love somebody, you don’t think that way.
When you love somebody, you want to yank up their shirt,
pull down their pants, bury your face in their flesh.
When business students take the GMAT, they score lower
than students in every other major. You think the great lovers
of legend took the GMAT? Hell, no! They were too busy
trying to figure out how to fool the brother/uncle/father/king
who was trying to keep them from meeting
in the garden/alcove/portico/broom closet. Take the Châtelaine
of Vergy, who loves an unnamed knight in the service
of the Duke of Burgundy but insists he keep their love
secret, though when the Duchess of Burgundy makes a play
for the knight and he spurns her, she flies into a rage and tells
the Duke that the knight tried to seduce her, leading the Duke
to accuse the knight of treachery and the knight to say where
his heart truly lies, thus breaking his promise to the Châtelaine,
who dies in despair, and when the knight finds her body,
he kills himself, and when the Duke finds both bodies,
he kills the Duchess and becomes a Knight Templar.
There, another horrible end. But what passion while
it lasts, what kisses, what sighs as the lovers fall asleep
in each other’s arms. If you loveless young couples
spent more time trying to make sense out of stories like this one,
you’d score higher on the GMAT. Take more humanities courses,
business majors. And you businessmen and -women—
unite! Let poets address your gatherings! You worship
Moloch, the god to whom the Canaanites sacrificed
their firstborn and Ginsberg chanted, “Moloch! Moloch!
Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries!
blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations!
invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!”
Go on, break your backs lifting Moloch to heaven,
if you must, but let the poets in as well. “Unscrew
the locks from the doors!” said Whitman, and the doors
themselves from the jambs. Industry leaders, I call on you
to promote American business, also monkey business.