I started reading Albert Cohen's Belle du Signeur last week, and now I feel like my life has suddenly become an Albert Cohen novel. Its a bit uncanny. No one I have talked to has even heard about him, despite the fact that the back of the book says he's up there in the rarified heights of modern stream-of consciousness writers like Proust (I am not a fan) and Joyce (also not of fan).
He writes the inner monlogues of a collection of characters in 1930's Geneva. They are all connected to the League of Nations. The main character so far is a middle ranking civil servant who aspires to professional advancement while at the same time he tries to do the least amount of work possible. He waxes poetic about the staplers (a real Bostich!-- 40 staples a minute) and nearly erotic regarding his new pencil sharpener, all the while ignoring the plight of the Camaroonian natives he's supposed to be overseeing. Al has totally transcended the time and place of his characters... he could be writing about The Institution and Non Profit just as easily.
Case in Point
Last night I had a gracious invitation to a party. It was Silicon Valley classic. I heard people talking about craigslist, their vintage lighters, Art, Racial Issues, etc. I even spoke briefly with Swiss dude-- I slaughtered French and I caught the joke in German (grosse mann grosse keg). I had a good time, but every one there was somehow connected to the Non Profit. Not only were they from the Non Profit, they were from the Upstairs Department (the accountants, the admins, administrators, secretaries, coordinators). I am technically Downstairs (the teachers) and I mentioned something about it to the hostess and she said that I was one of three downstair people she invited. My little civil servant ego swelled with pride. I think I am going to go play with my new stapler.
Case in Point, 2
I arrived at my box this morning and I found a blue neck-key chain. I don't know what they are called, but PE teachers always have them. One side had the name of the Institution and the other had the [gasp] MY NAME! I have been branded! I immediately slipped my keys on and they bounced importantly on my front all day.