This chapter is entitled “The Boss” and makes me think of that The Lonely Island song. Unfortunately, it is not quite as entertaining as that track, though it is still fine over-all.
“To be vested with enormous authority is a fine thing; but to have the on-looking world consent to it is a finer. The tower episode solidified my power, and made it impregnable” (54).
I do enjoy characters with absolute power because the moralist cry about how that power corrupts absolutely is always not so far off. Alas, I do not think we will be hearing any Star Wars quotes or mildly racist Far Eastern quotations to critique Protag-man’s inevitable behavior. Oh well. One does not always get what one wants in life. Randomly: I’m also thinking of tower defense games and how Protag-man would make for a great teammate.
“[W]hat would I amount to in the twentieth century? I should be foreman of a factory, that is about all; and could drag a seine down street any day and catch a hundred better men than myself.”
I like this segment since it shows us an even higher level of awareness on how shitty Protag-man is—he is so shitty that he openly admits to the average person being better abled than he is in just about anything. Plus, it also devaluates the position of foreman, providing at least a minor critique at how these minor authority positions in factories not only do not make good people, but show it to be all about financial matter. Division among the work force, in other words.
“Yes, in power I was equal to the king. At the same time there was another power that was a trifle stronger than both of us put together. That was the church” (55).
This remark begins an internal monologue on the part of Protag-man. He remarks on the social ills of the Catholic Church—something which could either come off as militant Protestantism or atheism—as well as musing on how the concept of the aristocracy is a social negative, but one wouldn’t know it if you were brought up during that time due to your close proximity. This sentiment I like because it is so true and unleashes some of Twain’s radical commentary: replace feudalism/slaves with capitalism/waged-laborers and you will see what I mean.
“I was never known by any other designation afterward, whether in the nation’s talk or in grave debate upon matters of state at the council-board of the sovereign. This title, translated into modern speech, would be THE BOSS. Elected by the nation. That suited me. And it was a pretty high title” (58).
Again, that The Lonely Island song is playing in the back of my mind.
Still, it’s pretty amusing how he foregoes any fancy title, something one imagines that a relatively modern man would take if he was transported back in time, in favor of a vague authority-enhanced title. Makes me think of an inferiority complex. But this is what this whole episode is about, isn’t it? Not being good enough for capitalism; the next section, where Protag-man muses on being like an animal, pretty much solidifies this.
Protag-man whine some about having to attend tournaments. He relents to Lancelot and company’s incessant pleadings but only for a cultural affair. His real goal is to oil up the governmental machinery, but on occasion watches the jousting stuff because that is what good rulers do.
“I not only watched this tournament from day to day, but detailed an intelligent priest from my Department of Public Morals and Agriculture, and ordered him to report it; for my purpose… [was] to start a newspaper” (61).
Bureaucracy—man’s best friend! But, yeah, he really is Robinson Crusoe; gets transported to a far-away land and the first thing he does is set up some stately posts. Priorities.
Why he wants a newspaper is never really explained. He remarks about it, more or less, keeping the beat of the nation despite having its faults. Whatever. Sounds like he is just finding ways to be lazier but there is a fine line between lazy and productive, so, again, whatever.
Eh, there is some weird remarks: an excerpt from the quint old timey writing from Protag-man’s underlings as well as Protag-man giving Sir Gareth a pet name of Garry, which is odd.
Then this knight goes after the Holy Grail. Yup, that’s it for the chapter. Not much happened. Fine.