a confederacy of dunces

I finished reading John Kennedy Toole’s infamous cult novel A Confederacy of Dunces a week or so ago, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. A friend gave me his copy to read after we went out one night and apparently I was describing everything as ‘offensive’, or I used the word at least enough for my friend to make the connection that I was another kind of Ignatious J. Reilly. This connection is offensive. I would never get an erection thinking about a dead dog. Ignatious would also never go to the gym. However, beyond personal quirks there are some interesting convergences in our respective trajectories.

The novel presents the story of an over-educated youngish-adult tormented by an extreme inability to fit in. ‘Fitting in’ is not some nice happy regular ‘not fitting’ as in the case of someone who does not fit in to polite society because of a kind of lumpen disposition, i.e. someone from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’. No, someone from the wrong side of the tracks fits in precisely… on the wrong side of the tracks or as someone from the wrong side of the tracks. Ignatious has found himself displaced from everyday life without traveling anywhere. In fact, he denounces all travel. His response is entirely reactionary on an intellectual level; he turns back to a bizarre lived medieval scholasticism. This is born of what we would now recognise as depression.

The convergence here is precisely organised around the not-fitting-in-ness that is experienced as a displacement from everyday life. There are various everyday lives so I am not talking about ‘mainstream’ everyday life. Rather it is the general composition of expectations that guide behaviour and our actions in a mundane sense of being unthinking but felt. Ignatious goes to war against expectations be it in the cinema (affective expectations of film), family (social expectations of his mother), work (capitalist expectations of surplus value), and even ‘fun’ (social expectations of levity or non-seriousness). However, beyond this, he uses particular expectations as weapons of impression in his trans-continental battle with his loving nemisis, Myrna “The Minx” Minkoff. So attempts to mobilise and revolt of the black workers of a pants factory or master plan for world peace by filling the armed forces with gays are hyper-cynical moves to impress Myrna. Myrna is a classic bourgie…

One reply on “a confederacy of dunces”

  1. Consider – in your wildest imagination if,
    Ignatius J. Reilly and Myrna “The Minx” Minkoff
    from the novel
    “A Confederacy of Dunces,”
    had ever gotten together and by
    some miraculous turn of events,
    conceived/fumbled a child into this world,
    it would surly be none other than

    Millard T. Lippenpool III/BOI

    in the novel


    Galveston Island will never be the same…

    A novel by

    Joseph G. Tidwell III


    In “Palace of the Oleander Moon,” Mr. Tidwell’s writing possesses the trappings of a raw timelessness with a profound comedic undertone as that of Rabelais and Falstaff. He evokes his readers to unconsciously walk among the inner most sanctums of these scrumptious characters, as if one were leisurely browsing the depths of a strange curio shop, finding each trinket (character) a surprise, and upon closer examination, a vivid gem.

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