Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ikea: The Nordic God of Frustration

Ikea, the bastard offspring of Odin and a giant boar, is a mighty magical being of incredible strength. Ikea has the ability to control the Earth’s tides, as well as the power to turn sawdust and leftover Styrofoam into delicious – and affordable – little meatballs.

Just as his cousin Loki is known as a rascal trickster, so too does Ikea play games with the puny, weak-minded humans who worship at his particle-board altar. Many well-known myths demonstrate Ikea’s masterful trickery – but none so famous as “The Tale of the Seventy Misaligned Pre-Drilled Screw Holes.” I will not go into the details of this extraordinary story, as the yarn has been spun thousands of times over the ages – to the horror of children and adults alike.

Suffice it to say, Ikea is a brilliant rogue.

There is, however, a lesser known Ikea myth which (I believe) merits much greater distribution throughout the Ikea-worshipping world (aka, the internet).

Have you heard of the story of “The Shoe Maker and the Furniture Labyrinth”? I thought not. This fable involves one stubborn, silly human – Sven Magnusson – who dares to flout Ikea’s omnipotence, and has the audacity to doubt the great god’s cleverness.

As revenge for Sven’s indolence, Ikea tricks him into entering what appears to be a large barn - with the promise of a fantastic collection of magical hex-wrenches. But instead, Sven finds himself wandering through a never-ending maze of furniture, none of which is comfortable enough to sit on for more than 5 minutes at a time. He is relegated to this personal hell for all of eternity, aimlessly browsing well-staged groupings of sleek sofas and chairs, lighting and accessories.

But the legend speaks of Sven’s chance for redemption, as described by the Lord Ikea himself:

And upon that holy day dost thou finally accept defeat at my hands, I shall allow thy release from this brilliant labyrinthine prison. And only on that day, as it is promised, thou shalt be rewarded with unlimited, sleekly-designed Nordic-style furnishings of every shape and size – so that thou may distribute these gifts to all of mankind, at ridiculously low, low prices.

However, in order to get these gifts to pass from this world to the next, most of the items will need to be disassembled. Thou shalt pack them flat for ease of transport. I shall include simple instructions for reassembly, of which thine youngest and simplest child shall translate into all the languages of the world – so that all men may enjoy the value I hath provided, whilst accepting mostly minor difficulties due to shoddy craftsmanship. And all the Earth shall praise my name for ever and ever. And so it is written, and so it shall be. Amen.

The clear morals of the story are “might makes right” and “it’s better to look good than to feel good.” And, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, Sven did indeed make it out of that frightful maze, to fill the world with inexpensive, difficult to assemble furniture.

Sven Magnusson, I salute you as I write this - even though my Ikea desk chair just fell apart because it was missing several screws.

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