Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Occasional Series of Ideas for Papers on John Kennedy Toole, Part 7

Education of Philosopher-King

In the Toole Papers at Tulane, there is a folder of college assignments from Philosophy (in 2009, it was box 2, folder 8). There is an assignment there dated 9 January 1956 submitted by Toole to Dr. Ballard in Philosophy 101. Leaf two of the assignment discusses the proper education of Plato's Philosopher-King. At age 17, the future king should engage in a ten-year study of geometry, solid geometry, astronomy and harmonics. At age 30, the student should have mastered mathematical forms and be ready to rationalize and not depend on the visible. In Confederacy, Ignatius, who is 30 years old, has toiled for many years as a student in isolation, and the plot of the novel shows him trying to go out into the world and take action.

Thesis: Discuss Ignatius as a parody of a budding Platonic Philosopher-King.