One lunchtime you see the Managing Director, who jogs every lunchtime. He had a heart attack and has become a jogger. Round the building he goes. I think to myself: he is more real than any of us. He may be a slim, small man, but he is also a planet and we all revolve around him. If we lose our jobs we will be spun off into the outer darkness and torn apart. He’s the one who keeps us safely in our orbits. The M.D.: a small man, but he has a whole suite of rooms with a special entrance of his own from the main foyer. He has a toilet in there. Once I was able to use it, I can’t remember why. But I thought: well, this is it, here I am in the M.D.’s suite, the engine room. It all happens here.
The M.D. is the minor deity who holds our world together. We should be grateful to him. We owe our existences to him. He is like Descartes’s God who sustains each of us in our existence. He is a benign father and we should break off our work now and again to sing his praises. In the end, none of us exist, we are finite substances and he alone is infinite: infinite substance. He alone is real and here you are in his personal toilet.
Then there are the senior managers who surround him. Important women, sleek and well-groomed. Important men, less sleek, less well-groomed. Reasonable people. You can call them by their first name. You can aspire to be like them: they are models, exemplars. The thirty something graduate trainee in my department says: I went to university to make something of myself. He is in his sandwich year. He recommends I take myself to the training facilities. Work on yourself, he says. And he is right, I'm not real enough, none of us are, there's a great deal of work to be done.
We know we’re not real enough; there’s a long way to go. Our desire to identify ourselves is phantasmic. We want reality, identity, want to hold on to something so the everyday won’t blow us away. Because there is a recession on and there are never enough jobs. But who are they, the deities? If I went to the boardroom in his private suite of rooms, spoke to him, he would be calm, reasonable. He might have a son my age and recognize in me a version of his son. And what would I see? If I expected to see a god in shining armour, I would be disappointed and confused like K. in The Castle when he discovers Klamm is a banal man, that there was nothing to him. A fat man behind a desk. But what about the M.D.? A man who is just like me?
The fact he is just like me allows you to measure yourself according to the measure which accords great status. He is an ordinary man, it is true, but he is also a minor deity. He is quietly spoken, pleasant, and you can call him by his first name. He has an open door policy. You have a problem? Then go and see him. He is benign, mild; there he is, he'll talk to you. He is just like me, born from the streaming body of Capital, coalesced from the everyday by working on himself (by allowing Capital to work on him ...) Beyond him, there is Capital. Capital is The Castle. But as K. discovers, it is also a motley collection of huts. Just as this industrial estate is a collection of prefabricated buildings ...