So dry your tears. Fortune has not yet turned her hatred against all your blessings. The storm has not yet broken upon you with too much violence. Your anchors are holding firm and they permit you both comfort in the present, and hope in the future.
― Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy
“Oh, Fortuna, blind, heedless goddess, I am strapped to your wheel,” Ignatius belched. “Do not crush me beneath your spokes. Raise me on high, divinity.”
Fortuna’s wheel has recently taken an unpleasant turn in my life, which has resulted in a frantic burst of activity to keep myself afloat. The past week has been a flurry of job applications, form filling and other brushes with bureaucracy.
More mundanely, I also had an hour to kill at the supermarket, waiting for a taxi, and I happened to spy John Kennedy Toole’s, A Confederacy of Dunces on their charity bookshelf. I pounced on it, even though I already have a beautiful cloth bound edition at home, because I knew that at least with Ignatius J Reilly for company, the hour would pass quickly.
I read this book last year and absolutely loved it. Ignatius J Reilly is one of my favourite characters in literature. Why? Well, I hate to say it, but because I can see a lot of myself in him!
Ignatius has a master’s degree and is obsessed with the late Roman philosopher, Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy; and writing one paragraph a month on this great work, is the nearest the indolent slob gets to any form of industry. Yes, Ignatius is very lazy, but he is also pretty much unemployable, due to his unique mindset and eccentric behaviour. Later in the novel, we see him attempt to hold down jobs as an invoice clerk and a hotdog salesman, with hilarious results.
Now, I’m far from feckless and unemployable – in fact, my jobs are so numerous that I have to leave many of them off my CV. However, I do find it very difficult to get corporate jobs, as I’m a bit too, what shall we say? Individual? A case in point, I failed to even make it through the psychometric test for a supermarket cashier job this week (for the second time in my life, in fact). The rejection email helpfully suggested that I read the questions more carefully next time, but I know this wouldn’t do any good. In true Ignatius J Reilly style, I maintain that my mode of thinking was correct and that Sainsburys are a bunch of idiots.
Unfortunately, like Ignatius J Reilly, I’m so out of step, that I think this quite a lot of the time. Although, unlike my literary hero, I don’t think that the collapse of civilisation was ushered in by the Age of Reason:
“With the breakdown of the Medieval system, the gods of Chaos, Lunacy and Bad Taste gained ascendancy.” Ignatius was writing in one of his Big Chief tablets.[…] “Merchants and charlatans gained control of Europe, calling their insidious gospel “The Enlightenment.”
Though it may well have been. My own personal bugbear is the rise of bureaucracy; which removes the individual from all state and corporate processes. In fact, I had a flash of enlightenment while walking round the Holocaust galleries at the Imperial War Museum one day – that the slaughter of millions was made possible by the efficiency and refinement of the Deutsches Reich’s bureaucratic machine.
Anyway, I digress. Plus, I’m in no way suggesting that Sainsburys are akin to the Nazis. I’m just not their type.
Oh, Fortuna, please smile on me soon.