Monday, July 26, 2010

Worth being cheerleader about? For someone creative, nothing is worth being a cheerleader about. Gotta let reality configure itself in a way that fits reality and your heart and mind, and not be limited by a pre-existing set of ideas, no matter how goot the creative person thinks those ideas are.

"Kim" by Rudyard Kipling is a great read, which continually shows how fabulous a writer Kipling could have been if he hadn't been determined to go rah-rah for the British Empire in India. It also continually shows how he was limited by his rah-rah.

And it's partly good.

A good reason to read "Kim" is it's a good read. Another reason is it helps one understand modern Indian literature written in English, which references "Kim" a lot. It's sort of the giant old monument some feel they have to deal with, and they definitely assume you're read it.

It's not hard to read. Mostly, bumpiness that is there is caused by Kipling's way different than now assumptions, and also by the modern reader's assumptions about Kipling's assumptions, which are often inaccurate. Kipling limited himself, but his largeness emerges when you least expect.

When Kim, the orphan British boy living on his own wandering around India, meets the Tibetan lama who becomes his teacher, also wandering, we are invited to think of the lama as a comic figure. "Ah, conscending Kimpling," we might think.

No, it's a set up. The lama is very smart, including in practical ways, and because he's very smart and has access to serious money back at the monastery, he is able to help Kim in a serious way. He figures out that Kim should go to a British school in India and what kind of British school in India he should go to. He should go to a good school designed for children of mixed parents--which fits Kim, even though he is culturally and not genetically mixed. If he'd gone to the British schools in India that thought they were the best, he would have been looked down on all the town. He doesn't quite fit in the mixed school either, but much closer. The lama pays his way.

The lama is away from Tibet and wandering in India because he is looking for the river in which he will find enlightenment.

At the end of the book, he finds it, and finds it very close to the source. So to some passers-by he would look like an old man being oddly euphoric as he sits in mud puddle.

What if someone with Kipling's raw writing ability--lots--and willingness to work--huge, were around now and wanted to promote exactly my political ideas using story-telling and poetry writing?

If would be a far, far better thing if this talented person didn't do that, but let the story-telling and poetry fashioning ability find what they were for. We'd all know more for the honest effort.

Such a person might look, sometimes, to people more organized around current idea categories, like they were being happy sitting in a mud puddle, but they might be gathering strength from the good source, which could then travel to minds and times that would otherwise miss it. Make a longer and more honest splash by not knowing where all this creative work is going and being willing to sit in the right place, however unimpressive to some others.

The people can take in your work and just take it in, rather than alternating taking it in and yelling at it, like many current readers of "Kim," like me.