I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.
Howl expresses the rage of a lost generation struggling against a conformist and materialistic culture that drives its rejects to poverty, drugs, mental breakdown, and whatever mental condition leads someone to believe that “Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy.”
Craigslist provides us with a screed that resembles a latter-day Howl for attorneys. A free-form scream to the heavens — fittingly recast as the Internet — for an escape from the landscape of joblessness and debt that dominate the existence of young lawyers. A haunting vision into the soul of a lawyer who has crossed the mental breaking point and, in the author’s words, “given up hope.” A chilling account of the unemployed attorney as beggar asking not just for money, but masochistic abuse from others just to regain dignity.
Mostly it’s a rant that cuts through all the B.S. of every other job posting on Craigslist….
This posting comes on little cat feet from the shores of Lake Michigan — a Chicago Craigslist post entitled, Can I get a f**king job already? It’s brilliant. It’s a subversive, exaggerated job post written by someone who has clearly read a lot of these and wanted to forge a pointed takedown of the discourse of job hunting in an economy filled with out-of-work lawyers:
ME: I’m a machine, a Goddamn monster, bloodthirsty. Willing to work 180 hours a week on the stupidest, most pointless shit. Do you have pleadings that need just a little “tweaking” because, despite how you act around friends and co-workers, you’re actually a shitty writer? Well, yes, I can re-write those and then eat shit while you take all the credit. Got a contract that you could really handle yourself, but you’d be happier tossing off some of the actual work to a shit eating loser? Yes, I can turn comments on those at 2 a.m. Got some documents that need review? I’m your f**king man. I’ll do doc review until I’m blue in the face; I will sit there doing doc review until my prostate explodes.
The author is cast as a supernatural being and then proves it by pledging to work 12 more hours than there even are in a week. This either confirms the otherworldly nature of the author or proves that this guy is totally down with billing a couple 29-hour days. The persistent reference to coprophagia underscores his monstrosity in this moment where the value of a lawyer is entirely consumed with putting up arbitrary — to the point of fictitious — numbers.
He should also get his prostate checked.
Why? BECAUSE I NEED A GODDAMN JOB. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve given up hope of ever being successful. Law school destroyed me and destroyed my life. I’m f**ked forever, I know that. But my girlfriend will leave me if I don’t get a job fast and she’s the only thing I’ve got going in the world. Seriously, I’ll be out on the f**king street and I won’t even care. I might go live in a box or get a canoe and go out into the ocean to die of exposure.
The stakes are set. This is no longer about the future. Lawyers in this position — posting on Craigslist — have shifted to subsistence living. There are out-of-work and contract attorneys who still dream of getting their career back on track, but this post cuts through that. If you’re an employer looking to hire someone off Craigslist, you don’t want someone who still harbors dreams of getting back to full-time work. Craigslist is the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and if this is the applicant pool you’re trawling, you don’t want someone poised to bust out once a better job comes calling.
But most importantly this is the unwritten text of every Craigslist job request. After reading this, try sifting through a bunch of politely written postings about how “unique” and “eager” and “committed” someone is and not hear this post ringing in your ears.
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
In another nod to the structure of Howl, the author opens the second section of the work by turning the gaze upon the employer, the servant of the legal industry Moloch:
YOU: I don’t give a f**k so long as you pay me. You can be a baby-eating republican or a flag-burning democrat. I don’t care. John Edwards, I would LOVE to work for your new firm. You could even be doing some freaky Saul Goodman shit and I wouldn’t care. Why? Because I’ve given up. I thought for a while that I could be an attorney and NOT be a shit bag, but I get it now that it’s not possible.
Follow the genius dots here: The hyper-exaggerated political theater transitions to the archetype of a criminal lawyer via a detour through a universally recognized shady lawyer/politician. Crime and politics are the same and none of it matters when you’re without money. Exalting politics and reviling crime are privileged constructs for those with money. But this author is over that. Idealism — defined as an attorney who is not a s**tbag (because even in good times that’s the most one could strive for) — is now crushed.
But it’s not really just money in this exchange. There is also the currency of abuse that the attorney desires and that the employer is more than eager to hand out. It’s like Secretary, but with two lawyers instead of one.
So take a look in the mirror and, if you see a fat, soulless, life sucking, miserable, cocksucker who is so miserable that you want to ruin someone else’s life, send shitty emails and call in the middle of the night to complain about work that just has to be done in the morning, or to complain about how everything is wrong and awful and so I’ll have to do it over and over, or even if you want to make fun of my sexuality/ethnicity/disability/face to make yourself feel better about your lost youth, then give me a call.
I can’t wait to hear from you!
Now the lines of demarcation are solidified just as they blur. In the mirror, we see in the face of the employer an older version of the author. Just as lost, but lacking self-awareness. Just as in the first part, read any job listing on Craigslist and try not to hear this in whatever corporatized language the employer uses. It is a website designed for hiring whores after all.
There are two paths in the Craigslist-fueled legal market: apathy or becoming a s**tbag employer. Sign up now.
(The entire post in all its glory appears on the next page….)