Tuesday 26th April 2005
It's time it was said, it's gone too long unspoken, and I think that I am the man to say it, "Rudyard Kipling is a fucking idiot!"
There it has been said. And the world is a better place for it. There are two reasons for this assertion,
a) Rudyard is a really stupid name. This is possibly not directly his fault and the blame most probably lies at the feet of his parents. But evenso what was going through their head on this one. If you're going to have a nonsense name then at least make it up out of recognisable words like Apple, Satchell or Moon Unit. Rudyard is meaningless.The Yard bit is fine, but Rud? Knacker's would have been much more appropriate.
b) more importantly, his famous poem "If" is much quoted and lauded, but is deeply flawed. You may know it. "If" not (geddit? I am funny) then you can check it (I am down with the homos) here.
It essentially gives Rudyard Kipling's opinion of what constitutes being a man. That's the opinion of a man who had been given the name Rudyard and not thought to himself, "I think I'm going to change that."
The poem would be more efficient if it read,
"Look in your pants
Do you see a porridge gun
Cos if you do
You'll be a man, my son."
Brevity is the soul of wit and this is an accurate poem, so all is good with the world.
No he goes to list loads of attributes that he thinks you need to qualify as a man. The most famous bit is
"If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same."
then you'll be a man.
It struck me today how ridiculous that is. He's saying if your response to triumph and disaster is the same one then you have achieved the ultimate goal of masculinity.
So what he's saying is if you've trained for years to become a world class sprinter and then finally you achieve the ultimate goal of winning the Olympic gold medal at the 100 metres, then your reaction should be exactly the same as the one you would have if you say, witnessed the two planes flying into the World Trade Centre on 11/9.
So let's imagine your reaction to winning the gold medal is to jump around, punching the air and screaming in disbelief with wide Kelly Holmes style eyes, then according to Rud-yard (as the little black girl at his school called him) you should react in exactly the same way at the terrible sight of death and destruction. Which I think might offend the people around you. And I don't think they'd think you were a man. They'd think you were a mUslim extremist or a lunatic. Alternatively you'd be OK if your reaction to winning the Olympics was to pull out your hair, and cry out in despair and fall to the ground in disbelief at man's inhumanity to man. Which again, I don't think would make people think - "What a man!" I think they'd think, "What a strange and unusual twat!"
Thirdly Rudyard might be saying to us that your reaction should be the same to both in that you should not overly react in either direction. So for example if you overcome cancer and manage to climb Mount Everest, your reaction should just be a sort of uninterested "uh!" along with scrunching up your nose as if to say, "it's not a big deal", as should be your reaction to the news that your entire family have just been raped and tortured and slaughtered by an insane machete wielding maniac. Again, a little "uh", a scrunch up of the nose. It's a disaster, but I am going to react the same as I do with a triumph, which is to essentially not react. This does not make you a man. It makes you an unthinking automaten, who will rapidly be shunned by society for your heartless or underwhelming response to everything.
If you want to be a man (or a woman) then I would advice you to meet with triumph and disaster in two very different ways. React to triumph by modestly smiling and maybe punching the air and dancing a little jig, whilst making it clear that you couldn't have achieved the triumph without the help of others. But react to disasters such as a tsunami or war or pillage of some kind by looking sad and considered as if you are thinking "Oh no, that's really bad." And if the thing is really bad then actually say "Oh no, that's really bad".
Two very different reactions.
The only time I can think of that you should treat triumph and disaster just the same, is say, if Patrick Marber has written a new play which gets terrible reviews and closes in a week and Marber is told he must never work again in any artistic medium and chooses to commit suicide.
In this case punching the air and jigging are acceptable ways of coping with the disaster. But Rudyard could not have known this as he died whilst Marber was still doing his puppet show stand up act and when no-one would have ever believed he might go on to be taken seriously as a playwright or director.
Anyway, Rudyard Kipling is a twat. Let all the statues to him be pulled down and all his books burnt, apart from the Just So stories which are really excellent. Also punch anyone you see dressed up as a character from the Jungle Book.
Please do not eschew Mr Kipling cakes though. It's a different bloke. And if the "Mr Kipling" Kipling is also called Rudyard, he is at least sensible enough to not let anyone know and go by his more formal title of mister. He knows that making cakes makes you a real man.
That and eating them.
I wouldn't like to be Rudyard Kipling after this dissing. I showed him.
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