Tag: Kipling

Oct 25 Fear: Unstory – the Greatest Horror Story of them All

 

A man briefly leaves his pregnant wife to fly to his dying mother, a mother who endured one last round of chemo not in any hope of remission, but merely to eke out a few more months in order to see her grandchild born. His mother dies two hours before he arrives. He stays for her funeral, missing his own child’s birth by a few hours, too. A youngster complaining of “arthritis” is dismissed because his range of motion is large, not small. His complaint thus “disproven”, he gets on with life, or tries to. Decades later, body gratuitously dilapidated and his stoicism rendered meaningless, he learns his flexibility was the one objective clue that, if heeded, could have prevented a world of hurt – even kept him off disability – but now it’s too late. Albert Camus dies in a car crash – with a train ticket in his pocket: he was supposed to take the train, but his publisher persuaded him at the last minute to go by car instead. His death, while fittingly comedic for an absurdist, existentialist Frenchman, is not “meaningful” otherwise – it’s only distinguished by its contingency, by how easily it might not have happened.

Suffering needn’t be particularly intense to seem intensely meaningless. Even suffering that’s just big enough to be unsafe to ignore, but still too “small” to explain, may qualify. There are many forms of suffering that hurt the body, but it is suffering without a story that hurts the soul. And that’s where the story of Job comes in, because Job’s story is the unstory – the story that happens when there is no story. Job’s story is that nothing – not even God – takes away life’s absurdity – life’s refusal to fit our narratives. Perhaps it’s even God’s greater story that makes absurdity possible.

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Only four things are certain since social progress began: Dogs will eat to excess; pigs will enjoy being unclean; people will play with fire; & GOP politicians will do the Philistine song & dance for the national audience, making sure no one suspects that their presidential-looking bodies harbor souls moved by the greatest enterprises known to mankind. It’s a […]

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The other day Mr. Devereaux & I had an exchange about jarheads. His description of the exiled hero reminded me of a friend. I do not know many people like him, but I can sum him up briefly–I have never known anyone to wear his superiority so lightly. Mr. Devereaux would say, jarheads don’t feel […]

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With all the fuss about Jon Stewart, Brian Williams, and gotcha questions for presidential candidates*, I thought this one might be appropriate. This one closes the story “The Village That Voted the Earth Was Flat” in A Diversity of Creatures, a collection of Kipling stories. Preview Open

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This poem originally appeared in Puck of Pook’s Hill. It opens the story “Knights of the Joyous Venture.” I used this poem on the base of a model I built of a viking ship under sail. (The model won first place at a model contest for sailing ships.) The Old Grey Widow Maker is, of course, […]

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Perhaps because I am feeling a little unmotivated today, I decided to choose this poem. It comes from Just So Stories, and closes the story “How the Camel Got Its Hump.” I do not think there is a real title – in Rudyard Kipling’s Verse, Definitive Edition it is included under “Just So Stories, Chapter Headings.”  But […]

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This one comes from the first part of Kipling’s book Sea Warfare, (you can read more about it here) taken from a collection of articles Kipling wrote for The Daily Telegraph during World War I. (It is also available in audiobook form from Librevox.org as The Fringes Of The Fleet.) Each article was preceded by […]

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One of Kipling’s poems that hits most of Kipling’s standards: a man alone, discovery, the willingness to make a heap of all your winnings, and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss.  And of course to go that one more mile when you have nothing in you – and that the reward may […]

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“The Widow’s Party” is another favorite of mine.   It is in Barrack-Room Ballads, one of Kipling’s first collections of poetry. It is definitely a piece from Victorian England rather than the later Edwardian Age.  I was introduced to it by Jerry Pournelle, who included it in one of his “There Will Be War” anthologies. […]

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“A General Summary” served as the introduction to Departmental Ditties, Kipling’s first collection of poetry.  While advances in science have left some of the facts dated, the message is as marvelously relevant today as when Kipling first wrote it. As before, I am putting the poem in the first comment.  Click Like if you enjoyed it and […]

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Time is short so I’ll get right to the moral of the story. Why failure? Is failure real or is it an imposter, as Rudyard Kipling wrote, in his poem If? This excerpt from that poem is installed over the Wimbledon players’ entrance to Centre Court: “If you can meet Triumph and Disaster Preview Open

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Another poem from  A School History of England (1911) by C.R.L Fletcher and Rudyard Kipling. I felt this appropriate for today because yesterday one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta returned to England.  It had been on loan and was in Boston (where the state’s politicians resolutely ignore its significance). I saw one of […]

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