He was of an age where it was never possible to pursue one errand at a time. He must do many at once. He guessed that people who had lived right and arranged things properly must have it all rigged so that all of their quests ran in parallel, and reinforced and supported one another just so. They gained reputations as conjurors. Others found their errands running at cross purposes and were never able to do anything; they ended up seeming mad, or else perceived the futility of what they were doing and gave up, or turned to drink. Daniel was not yet certain which category he was in, but he suspected he’d find out soon enough.

Neal Stephenson: The System of the World