Monday, 4 May 2009

Pulvis et Umbra

Over at The Times' education blog, School Gate, there's an interesting discussion developing. Sarah Ebner, the journalist, had asked a young graduate from the University of Lincoln named Sarah Beard to write a piece on the difficulties she was finding as an average graduate from a 'new' university in a non-traditional subject, Business and Tourism. Ms Beard's article was, it seems, responded to with a great vitriol by commentators, comments which were, according to Beard, 'narrow-minded and full of intellectual snobbery.' Ebner's follow-up piece has also attracted a slew of sneers, starting with this fascinating one from 'Anonymous':

The only worthwhile graduates work in the City.

Everyone else is just mediocre in my opinion, the City is the gauge of success. If you aren't on at least £100k within 5 years of graduating you have failed in life.

Now, presuming that it's not intended ironically, I found this comment incredibly saddening as well as darkly funny. Call me 'the boy who swallowed the Collected Works of C. G. Jung', but I have a feeling that we could tell a lot about this man--and it almost certainly is a man--just from these few words. Public schoolboy, non-Oxbridge (probably Bristol or Durham complete with chip), wears stripy shirts with non-matching collars, unhappy childhood, not a reader, doesn't like being alone (he probably comes home to his duplex and switches on the TV and the stereo at once), a heavy drinker and/or recreational drug-taker, a wideboy and a bit of a bully. Probably a workmanlike if rather brutish lover, possessive, with a terrible temper and a penchant for identikit girlfriends whom he showers with gifts but treats badly and disposably. Actually very unhappy beneath all the bluster, which will probably be brought home to him thanks to a titanic midlife crisis involving an affair or infatuation with an ungraspable, unpindownable, mercurial Other Woman, who won't be possessed. (And I'll add, à propos of nothing, our chappie is almost certainly a Taurean, albeit one living out the sign's Shadow admirably.)

What an absolute tosser. But I recognise that, on some level, some nasty treacherous part of me instinctively agrees with him; beneath my bearded, boho, Letters to a Young Poet-reading exterior there's a tyrannical materialist with a crushing lack of imagination. Thank goodness for that year and a half of Jungian analysis I had in my mid-twenties: if I hadn't had it--and I resented the expense constantly--I would never have seen that the attitudes of 'Anonymous' are hidden somewhere in me, too.

Poor old Jung. Awful though he was to his wife, and despite all his other faults--including that horrendously opaque writing style--I still think the old Sage of Bollingen had it more right about the human psyche than almost anyone else.


Anonymous said...

It's Ben from the Apprentice surely?

There's some psychoanalytic mileage in his promise to bite someone's teeth out, surely? Oral fixation + aggression.

Mind you, he's come out with the most memorably cruel phrase, no doubt a Northern Irish standard since I don't reckon he'd have the imagination to think it up himself: "[So-and-so] couldn't pour shit out of a Wellington boot even if the instructions were on the heel."


Bo said...

Yes, I was thinking of him!

Anonymous said...

That may be an Ulster expression, but it's quite common in America too. I've heard it as a favorite of Harry Truman. Along with, "If you took all the experts in Washington and lined them up end to end, they'd all point in different directions." Rodger Cunningham

Anonymous said...

Thing is, tho, most 22 year-old guys are absolute tossers. I know I was, and I've barely improved.


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