Yet not one of those activities the author lists (I have never been to a dump but have done everything else) makes me feel as productive as writing poetry does. While doing other activities – washing dishes, getting the mail, vacuuming, etc. – I feel something nagging at me, something that can only be satisfied by poetry-making, and only then, after engaging in said activity, do I feel like a productive member of society. Maybe I’m not communicating, but maybe I am. With someone, anyway. One other person? Twenty? Two hundred? How many people does writing have to communicate with in order to earn a label of usefulness?
More images of “useless”: a picture of a kitten being nuzzled by a mouse, titled “Useless Cats”; a photograph of a sign that reads “SIGN NOT IN USE”; a photo of a “useless flier” that reads: WTF LOL. This one strikes me as poignantly pertinent – here is a sign, posted in public for anyone to read, but the message on the sign only makes sense, only communicates, inside a specific context – among friends on Facebook, for instance. This is the same (or a similar) brand of uselessness of which poetry is often accused: communicating only inside a small circle, and being meaningless outside of it. Does this, then, justify poetry’s classification as unproductive? Isn’t communication inside a relatively small circle still communication, and isn’t all communication automatically useful?
And, perhaps more importantly, do I want to communicate with the audience of “Two and a Half Men”?