2 doads riverged and some bluebirds etc
This photo and caption were inside the elevator of my hotel. Affixed to the actual door. This was Dry Ridge, Kentucky. Dry Ridge sucks. Why? Because it’s dry. Why would a state officially blooomed for bourbon want to populate itself with dry counties? It’s like entering a college coffee shop without hearing some kid discussing free speech or Eric B and Rakim. Like logging onto HTML and not finding flames, hijacked theory, gelatinous shreds of Tao Lin…but I do digress.
I’m all for inscrutability but WTF on this ad? “the path less traveled” (no caps–very hip) is two girls in fake wings walking?
The real concern isn’t the advert. (Is it even? What exactly is it selling? Why is it on the elevator door?) The real botheration is the source material. That fucking poem.
Let’s trod on:
Robert Frost as possibly the dead cat of poetry. The Silly Putty. Chisel it what you wish. Cartoon catcher, fishing bait, lint remover.
My father keeps saying how important walls are in relation to neighbors. And I say, “Dad, the narrator is arguing against walls the entire poem.” Or possibly I am wrong.
But let’s recoil to this poem, this pathway. You know the one: The Road Not Taken. (Weirdly, even the title is often altered. Many people will refer to this poem as “The road and/or path less traveled.”)
Here as sponsored by banking. But it could be software or Mountain Dew or widgets. The poem already has a brand–some vague idea of individuality, of free will over determinism–and apparently that brand/interpretation understood as positive. The elevator idea above represents the poem–you don’t need to know what anything means. You simply need to recognize that line from that poem and then nod your head. Yep, that’s for sure. The good old Path Less Traveled. See that, honey? Now let’s go get our complimentary bagels.
Monster.com spent their Superbowl ad budget on the poem.
“This year’s commercial, “The Road Not Taken”, reinforces Monster.com’s core mission–pursuing and achieving a fulfilling career path for everyone. However, instead of featuring children to deliver the important message, Monster.com took a more serious yet impactful approach.
Hell, you can even wear the poem as jewelry.
I wonder why. I always wonder why because I work in academia so get to sit in a chair and hear “The Road Not Taken” at presidential dinners, at award ceremonies, at commencement. Sometimes my colleagues and I will wager on a.) Odds on Frost poem b.) Odds on “Road Not Taken” (“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” also a popular choice) c.) Odds on “Road Not Taken” interpreted as a useful guide to living.
I hear/hear/hear this poem–or usually only a few lines–and I’ve reached the conclusion there is no conclusion. I think the poem is entirely wide open. The key lines do not mean what a lot of people, especially public speakers, seem to want us to believe. Or they might, in a certain setting, a certain spin. The poem is possibly Jello.
But I can’t even say that one path is less traveled:
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And the sigh, that sigh is so open. In fact, I notice how speakers have to enunciate the sigh, have to press and collapse the meaning into their own sigh, or it just doesn’t translate.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
You mean like you just finished third in a poutine eating contest and you push yourself away from the table and let out this belch/sigh of WTF? I just entered an eating contest and didn’t win, so now I’m a loser and I have to suffer the gastronomical effects for days.
Or do you mean the sigh of visiting the grave of a person you should have asked out to the state fair?
Or do you mean the sigh of strolling out to the balcony above your kingdom of avocados and vineyards and spreading out your arms into the golden sun and just sighing, like check-out-this shit, check-out-my-kingly-domain kind of sigh?
I just bought a potted flower for my two year old to give mom for mother’s day and I turn around to blend a margarita and I turn back and the toddler has dumped the soil onto the white carpet and is kneading it in like crumbly dough and look she just snapped the neck of the flower, it’s dangling there by a little thin green string…ha, ha….
And that has made all the difference.
And now I have type 2 diabetes.
And now every time I see a happy couple my spleen ripples up and boils my stomach in its own juices of self-reproach.
And now I drink wine and eat guacamole in the wine and guacamole of my life and every day is form=function for me. I glow like loaded dice.
And now I’m divorced.
All the difference. All the difference. All the difference…
You know what?
My father died when I was 11. Mom died when I was 26. I committed my sister to a mental hospital. Then my daughter. Only two of my six children outlived me. The rest died of fevers, disease, suicide…
My name is Robert Frost.
Yes, my poems populate calendars, but be careful. For every bluebird, a crow.
I am well acquainted with the night.
I’m not saying the poem is always misread. Or always read correctly. I’m not even sure what that means. I’m just saying the poem itself should go away. It is the cliche, not its lines, but the actual poem. It’s like what Jerome Stern said about the word “azure” in writing. It isn’t what it is, and I’m ill of hearing it, especially the two or three lines “that made all the difference.”
Or–and maybe this is the genius of the elevator ad–why not juxtapose the cliche lines with an equally obscure image?
The speaker says “I shall be telling this with a sigh” and on a large projector we see a herd of dachshunds running across a field during a thunderstorm…or maybe a wedding cake in flames?
Or, since we must go with Robert Frost (and we must–the meter and matter make the things a Cracker Barrel experience, damn near a slogan), why not “Fire and Ice“? That seems appropriate prep for graduation into the “real world.” Why not “After Apple Picking“? It is basically “The Road Not Taken,” but far better, with an ominous undertone, a rumbling, not to mention the sudden appearance of a woodchuck.
No. No, we we must go TRNT, so how about the speaker dances out the poem on stage? An interpretive art for the graduating seniors. OK. Look, I am different, I am original–I am you.
Key the Eric B and Rakim.