Monday, April 27, 2009

"Neuron's Little Helper" (With Apologies to the Rolling Stones)

This is what happens when I listen to the Stones on my iPod the same day I read the recent New Yorker article on neuroenhancers...
What a drag it is, gettin' slow
School is different today
I hear every student say
That Facebooking and parties take their toll
And though he's not really ill
He'll just take some Provigil
And go running for the shelter
Of a neurons' little helper
And it helps him through the day
His last paper got an A

Work is different today
I hear all my colleagues say
That this economic crisis really blows
So our jobs don't go offshore
To some kid in Bangalore
We go running for the shelter
Of a neurons' little helper
And although our job's routine
We work just like a machine

We'll begin
With Ritalin
Heed the call
Of Adderall
What a drag it is, gettin' slow

Things just aren't the same today
I hear everybody say
The tempo of the world has got revved up
Life goes Faster, says James Gleick
I don't wanna miss a trick
So go quick, it's helter-skelter
Take a neurons' little helper
And it helps me to endure
Though my blood tests are impure

We'll begin
With Ritalin
Heed the call
Of Adderall
What a drag it is, gettin' slow

Life's just much too hard today
I hear every parent say
That their kids begin competing at age four
So to get the upper hand
(Even if this use is banned)
All children can take shelter
In these neurons' little helpers
Just pretend you're A.D.D.
And the pills are almost free...
On a more serious note, this article has to be one of the most insidiously thought-provoking things I have read in The New Yorker in a while. I say "insidious" because its subject matter is so calculated to get under the skin of the average New Yorker reader. A quick sketch of this average (stereotypical) reader: Upper West Side liberal, lives in an apartment spilling over with books, dresses in a tasteful and timeless and slightly rumpled way, would rather spend money on travel or restaurant meals or furniture than on trendy fashions or plastic surgery, wants to raise brilliant and creative children while at the same time lamenting the fact that kids these days are under so much pressure so young, works hard and is ambitious and curious (otherwise they wouldn't be reading The New Yorker, would they?). The article says hey, this (i.e. use of neuro-enhancing drugs) is going on, and there's probably no way to stop it now, and it will put even more pressure on your children and on future generations--everyone will be faced with tough decisions. How much will you sacrifice to keep up with your competition, if someone you know uses these drugs? And people said that this "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality would result from plastic surgery--and neuroenhancers are more ethically justifiable than plastic surgery, especially for the type of people who read The New Yorker and care about the beauty of the mind rather than of the visage. And furthermore, you, the hypothetical reader--you have had these thoughts, have you not? Thoughts like "There aren't enough hours in the day to be the kind of person I want to be..." "I should do more, read more, remember more--and start by tackling that stack of half-read New Yorkers..." "Why can't I come home from work and write the Great American Novel instead of watching American Idol?" So (the article implies), admit it, you're frightened, but you're also intrigued and tempted. This is Eve and the snake and the apple all over again.

Illustration stolen from The New Yorker.


L. Strether said...

First of all, that song is brilliant. Second, as a NYer reader, I'm going to get off the net right now and read that article, so I can have an intelligent conversation with my doctor tomorrow morning.

Marissa said...

Thanks for the comment. I just checked out your blog and was very favorably impressed, as well.

In an ideal world, I think there would be a blog devoted entirely to song parodies of New Yorker articles. But I won't be the one to create it, since I am NOT on neuroenhancers and can't take on any more commitments!

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