Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, and James Joyce, author of Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses, share precisely one thing in common other than their surnames. Their differences, on the other hand, are myriad:
- James Joyce spoke several languages fluently and was a renowned author whose understanding of Engish was on a par with that of Shakespeare; Alan Joyce’s understanding of English is that of a toddler. To him, words mean what he wants them to mean and other people are stupid for not understanding this.
- James Joyce grew up in poverty and oppression, and his political sympathies were firmly on the side of the proletariat; Alan Joyce has never missed a meal in his life.
- James Joyce worked long hours at difficult jobs to support himself and his family while writing classics of literature; Alan Joyce recently gave himself a raise for managing to do less than usual for a Qantas CEO.
- James Joyce was a staunch patriot of his native land; Alan Joyce is a citizen of the dollar – but only until another currency makes a better offer.
- James Joyce’s works all stress the importance of history and memory; Alan Joyce’s work relies largely on people not remembering what he did the day before.
These two disparate scions of the Joyce lineage do have one thing in common, though: neither of them would piss on the other if he was on fire.
(Although in fairness to Alan Joyce, it should be pointed out that he would in fact happily piss on anyone, whether they were on fire or not, but only in the event that he had already negotiated generous renumeration for doing so.)