The personalities in New Orleans are about as dimensional as a doberge cake. The multifaceted levels of the cultural dynamics have left writers baffled with how to describe the functioning chaos that ensues when the participants interact with one another, serving only to activate and propel their chaotic tendencies in a hermeneutic spiral. Few writers have accurately described this active element in New Orleans culture. It takes someone with keen observation skills, a penchant for social analysis and an intimate knowledge of the cultural landscape.
John Kennedy Toole holds just this trinity in his work Confederacy of Dunces providing a topographic map of New Orleans personalities. The main character, Ignatius J. Reilly, is an over schooled and uninspired 30-something living in his mothers home in Uptown New Orleans. The reader delves even deeper into the mind of the New Orleans mentality through the writings of Ignatius explaining in great detail his many schemes and organizational aspirations. The writings are so detailed into the worldview of the protagonist that I couldn’t help but share some of my favorite excerpts from Ignatius’ writings in the novel:
“The only excursion of my life outside of New Orleans took me through the vortex to the whirlpool of despair: Baton Rouge…New Orleans is, on the other hand, a comfortable metropolis which has a certain apathy and stagnation which I find inoffensive.”
“…I avoid that bleak first hour of the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make every chore a penance. I find that in arriving later, the work which I do perform is of much higher quality.”
“Their movement into power will be, in a sense, only a part of the global movement toward opportunity, justice, and equality for all. (For example, can you name one good, practicing transvestite in the Senate? No! These people have been without representation long enough. Their plight is a national, a global disgrace.)”
With a Dr. Nut in my belly and a Lucky Dog on my chin, I say good day!