Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Kipling

Sgt Mom over at Chicago Boyz asks if discrete references to Kipling are a good set of codes for identifying people one can talk to these days.  Commenters somewhat agreed, but there were other suggestions.  I am risking a return to the woods tomorrow and will think about this.

Update:  Not Kipling.  While those who reference Kipling are indeed extremely likely to be people you'd want to talk to, using him as a sign-countersign eliminates too many others who would be fine to speak with as well, but are simply not that familiar with Kipling.

Just so you know how it goes around here, my wife said "I haven't read that much of Kipling.  Kim.  Captain's Courageous..." (The Jungle Book, I said) "...The Jungle Book.  That expensive one we bought last year.... (Puck of Pook's Hill, I said) "Puck of Pook's HillJust-So Stories.  I don't think I've read much of his poetry..." (That will be fine dear, you've humiliated me enough.)

15 comments:

james said...

One of my colleagues wondered why free space was vanishing on one of our large filesystems. When he found I was doing some rebalancing, he asked "Art thou he that troublest Israel?" I answered that it was only a cloud no bigger than a man's hand. He's Nigerian. I don't think most of the Germans would have gotten the reference, and not many of the Americans.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I would not have caught the reference. It's a good section of story, though.

Sam L. said...

I have but touched a toe into the rippling waters of Kipling. I have a goodly sized book or his works, now in storage, that needs must be read when I finally find it.

Charles Harrell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
charlie said...

Kipling is a hoot, and the essay about him by Orwell is still worth reading, and still apropos.

I believe that the late Ugandan professor ALi Mazrui could quote Kipling from memory, and enjoyed doing so. Probably this was in part just to provoke, but also because Mazrui was a gadfly but at the same time rather open minded about such issues.

Somebody said the real test of a poet's worth is "how many lines of his can you recite?" This sounds like it was said about Auden, or at least in an essay about Auden by Joseph Epstein.

Poetry is definitely a good shield against being accused of political correctness. "They made us memorize it, and it just popped into my head!"

--Charles W. Abbott

james said...

Orwell complained of Kipling's cockney accents in his poetry (and some prose), and was spot on. He took up Eliot's distinction between verse and poetry and wandered off into nonsense.

I grew up with The Jungle Books and Just So Stories.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Charles Harrell, I'm not sure why your removed your comment. It didn't strike me as dumb. I will only say the difference in meaning was unknown to me before your pointed it out.

Reading the comments, I will update the post.

Charles Harrell said...

@AVI, I pulled the comment because I was reluctant to appear as a "Word Nazi" even tho' that seems to be one of my little (I hope!) neuroses.

RichardJohnson said...

Q. Do you like Kipling?
A. I don't know. How do you kipple?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Charles Harrell - I think we like usage vigilantes here.

Texan99 said...

Was this about discrete/discreet? (Since you're encouraging vigilantes.)

I'm not sure what keeps me from reading more Kipling. When I was a kid in Girl Scout Camp, there was a small library. Actually they disliked our checking books out of it and reading them, as we were supposed to be running around doing things. At any rate, they would tolerate reading for some kind of rest period we were supposed to observe in our tents in the afternoons, and I wanted to check out "Kim." They hemmed and hawed and ultimately decided I shouldn't be given access. They wouldn't say why. This experience didn't have the effect I might have expected, which would have been to spur me to lose no time getting a copy of the forbidden book once I got home. I did listen to "Captains Courageous" on an audiotape a few years back.

I didn't recognize the source of "Art thou he that troubleth Israel," but I must remember it. Google didn't reveal to me that the phrase ever entered the popular culture or got picked up in any famous novels. Are you familiar with it, James, strictly from the King James Bible?

james said...

I've read the passage many times, with a number of different translations, but the KJV, though not my favorite, got its hooks in my memory early.

I get it that the camp leaders wanted everybody working up a sweat, but it strikes me as horrible that they'd forbid books.

FWIW, one of my sister's friends at the time was Kim, and I figured the book was about a girl and wasn't interested in chick lit. Quite a mistake, rectified since. I even read The Light that Failed, back in the days when I finished a book if I started it. I suppose it is OK, but it didn't catch my fancy and I've never been tempted to re-read it.

I grew up in Africa, with little TV, movies not easy to get to and not cheap, and ... well ... I read a lot. I still think the finest interior decor is full bookcases.

Texan99 said...

I think it was more that they wanted us to socialize, not stick our heads in books all day indoors. They did have the library, but it was as though they were sorry they'd mentioned it. Possibly they had me (correctly) pegged as an introvert who'd happily have spent the whole two weeks alternating between mucking out stables and reading books.

George Putnam said...

I like Kipling's poem "If-" about growing up.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If%E2%80%94

Grim said...

You'd like "Kim," Tex, if you ever feel inclined to go back to it. It's one of my wife's favorite books.