Comment: “If history were taught in the form of stories....

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jrd3820's picture

“If history were taught in the form of stories....

it would never be forgotten"
Kipling from his collected works. I had a professor once tell me that Kipling said that after I had told all of history is fiction anyways, might as well make it into stories.
Kipling was born in Bombay to a Professor of Architectural Sculpture. George Orwell described him as “The prophet of British Imperialism.”

He was the first English author to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. I wrote a short essay on him in undergrad. He had interesting thoughts on America and “freedom.” He read Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold as a young child. It basically says that the worship of freedom leads to rampant anarchy or…. Everyone doing as they like which is why British Imperialism was necessary.

T.S. Eliot (Lost Generation) referred to him as a ‘nearly great writer.’ Eliot could be a bit full of himself sometimes though because Kipling created characters children will never forget such as Rikki Tikki Tavi.

All that being said; he was a master with words and words have colors, and his are very vivid.


”In the early days the Astrologer-Physician, as he called himself, dreamed that the secret of Man’s eternal unrest was laid up in the sun, moon, and stars; and consequently, since all created things were one in essence, that an universal medicament for Man’s eternal woes could be discovered upon earth. So he searched the earth and the heavens for those twin secrets, and sacrificed himself in the search as a matter of course.”

I am not sure people have really stopped looking to the skies for the answers. I haven’t. Maybe others have, that’s ok. I’m usually late to the party anyways.

“But, this time, the seekers who headed it, unlike the Priest and the Lawyer, admitted that they knew very little. Experience had taught them to be humble. For that reason their knowledge was increased.”

It’s really the only way to increase knowledge isn’t it? You have to be humble enough to know that you don’t know everything. In fact even the smartest human beings know very little in comparison to all the knowledge there is to possibly be known. Once you know that you don’t know anything you have room to learn. The more people learn the more they realize they know very little. Arrogance is not just a turn off in personality; it shows a lack of intelligence. The more sure someone is of themselves on every aspect of life, the less likely it is they know much about this world, and that is about one of the only things I am sure of.

”But such virtue is not reached or maintained except by a life’s labour, a life’s single-minded devotion. Its reward is not only the knowledge of mastery and the gratitude of the layman, which may or may not bring content. Its true reward is the dearly prized, because unpurchasable, acknowledgement of one’s fellow-craftsmen.”

I think that’s more important than people realize. Whatever your craft is, it is important to study other craftsmen in that arena, even if you don't necessarily like their work. Study all of it.

Toomai of the Elephants in one the stories in The Jungle Books. It’s about dancing elephants. I had a professor try to tell me it is about so much more and I’m sure it is, and I just reread it really quick and I get it…, but I still say it is about dancing elephants.

“I will remember what I was. I am sick of rope and chain--
I will remember my old strength and all my forest-affairs.
I will not sell my back to man for a bundle of sugarcane.
I will go out to my own kind, and the wood-folk in their lairs.”

“I will go out until the day, until the morning break,
Out to the winds 'untainted kiss, the waters' clean caress.
I will forget my ankle-ring and snap my picket-stake.
I will revisit my lost loves, and playmates masterless!”

Idk, if you can get just one or two of the stories from The Jungle Books individually, but if you can I suggest Toomai of the Elephants.

This edition has a really great intro.
I had to go searching for this one, but I knew it was out there, I remembered using it before.

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

oh btw...he was a freemason