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Tuesday, April 19, 2011


differential windlass: wikipedia
Beginning with: "Kim followed like a shadow. What he had overheard excited him wildly. This man was entirely new to all his experience, and he meant to investigate further: precisely as he would have investigated a new building or a strange festival in Lahore city. The lama was his trove, and he purposed to take possession. Kim's mother had been Irish too."
  1. "I worshipped none, child. I bowed before the Excellent Law."  Meaning?
  2. Already so alike Aladdin, he also resembles a little the various comic renditions of Robin Hood.
  3. The answer is no rare point of discussion on the blog: what is Kim's interracial/-cultural passport, also earning him the epithet, "Little Friend of All the World"? 
  4. The Lama's bald honesty engenders a patronizing sort of protectiveness in Kim for his new master.  Regarding the honesty: is the Lama so naive; is Kim so jaded?
  5. We know a little more about the River than we do the Red Bull, but clearly they are similar.  Any there any insights here, yet, regarding their similarities?  Now about the Pillars and the Wheel: again, we know more about the Lama's ambitions than Kim's, simply because Kim doesn't understand them himself yet, but those Pillars remind me, likely faultily, of the pillars crumbled by Samson.  Thoughts?  And what about the Wheel?  Dante speaks of Fortune's Wheel, though that is pretty much nothing at all like the Buddhist Wheel otherwise in question.
  6. Obviously this is subtle, and likely too subtle to be intentional, or at least not likely intended to be found by the reader, but I can't help but draw up a metaphor for the windlass as it compares to both Kim and the Lama.  Of course, it's situation among all the novelties of the bazar points away from this, and maybe toward another metaphor, but the windlass, as an implement in this case for drawing water from a well, indicates what of the boy and man?
  7. The letting of rooms between the walled--indeed imurred--arches of the aque-/viaduct (and this is another out-of-context comparison, but interesting nonetheless) reminds me of something I read some time ago (a little of which may be found here at my generous, online standby) about an old masons' tradition of entombing a person (dead or yet-alive) into the foundation of a bridge or other building, as a sort of pagan offering in request of strength and blessing and luck.
  8. When Kim is left with the horse-trader, the trader asks him what's going on, to which Kim responds, "Nothing. I am now that holy man's disciple; and we go a pilgrimage together—to Benares, he says. He is quite mad, and I am tired of Lahore city. I wish new air and water."  Is he telling the truth, as it seems to conflict, at least a little, with what he's told the Lama, or is he rhetorically shifting his motives for the sake of the horse-trader?
  9. (Anybody got an edition with footnotes?  What the heck is C.25.1B., R.17, M.4?  They have the appearance of being something like labels for sections of legal code, but they are used more like names.)
  10. I've got a bit of an issue with the story of Mahbub and the stallion and the 5 kings.  Narratively, it appears to have little reason to exist beyond an impetus to get Kim and the Lama out of town and on the road.  Likely I am wrong, but I couldn't help (third time this post) making a perhaps extraneous connection:  Kim's father's "prophecy" claims that a Red Bull will appear to help his son.  Well, Mahbub is, to put it obviously, rather bullish by nature (despite, of course, the Hindu sanctity of the bovine; though Mahbub is no Hindu) and he has a red beard, albeit dyed.  Hmm.


  1. 1. Buddhism, right?
    3. He's white, but he's grown up among the poor.
    4. Both, I think.
    5. The river is a bit more spiritual, while the bull is a bit more practical, I think. It's almost enlightenment vs. power, and perhaps it reinforces the idea that the Lama is somewhat naive and Kim is somewhat cynical.
    6. Unfortunately, I read this Saturday, and I can't remember the scene. What are your thoughts?
    8. I think that both are perhaps true, but sometimes you tell different truths to different audiences.
    9. They're code names in this nefarious horse trading ring.

  2. 3. More than--additional to--that, is his flexibility with language. It's no wonder he is The Friend to All the World: he is socially and linguistically/culturally neuter.
    4. Agree. It sort of balances them--puts them on a level field, as both qualities are important to a point. Interesting how this story plays a little off the model of the "buddy cop" shows and popcorn novels--"good cop" / "bad cop."
    5. Good point. Regardless/however, each as a symbol (river and bull) are heavily tied to Asian mythologies and genesis tales, as well as current religious connections.
    6. Wells and fonts are always symbolic, it seems. (The scene is more just a passing mention, as they traverse the bazaar and notice the various details and activities of the places.) Apart from the Christian notions of baptism, they are loci of knowledge, wisdom, renewal.... In this case, both Kim and the Lama are seeking knowledge, experience, revelation, etcetera, and for each the other may be an implement of assistance for accomplishing that quest--i.e. each may be, to a degree, the other's windlass.
    8. I appreciate that Kipling isn't simplifying and moralizing everything. Rarely are things so cut and dry as lies v. truth or good v. bad.
    9. Excellent! Thank you.

  3. 1. Absolutely Buddhism.
    3. "Friend of all the World" denotes (more for the reader than the cast, I think) that Kim is linguistically and socially adept, and Kipling tells us exactly that (at great length) when he gives Kim the moniker. Or maybe nicknames just weren't as cool in the 19th century.
    5. I think we know as much, if not more about the bull, it just has to be extrapolated. We are forgetting (as Kim's adoptive mother did) about the original "prophecy" from Kim's father: "nine hundred first-class devils, whose God was a Red Bull on a green field, would attend to Kim, if they had not forgotten O'Hara." I have a very distinct feeling that this is a reference to his father's military service. "First-class devils," I think, refers to rank (also, military men are often called devils (Marines are still devil dogs today) and the fact that there are nine hundred of them would indicate a regiment); the fact that their God is a Red Bull hints at Hinduism (Nandi, the bull god, is Shiva's mount, gatekeeper, and chief in Shiva's army (another militial reference). However, Nandi is white, not red). I may be reading too much into the bull right now though, as "a Red Bull on a green field" conjures imagery of a flag (perhaps the flag of Kim's father's regiment (which would make perfect sense since he hoped they would remember him)?)

    The Wheel is straight-up Buddhism. The Wheel of Things is the cycle of death and rebirth that we go through because we are attached to material possession. We are freed from the Wheel when we reach Nirvana -- that is, complete enlightenment frees us from the cycle, from material attachment. I think you're absolutely right that it can't be compared in any way (save for the fact that that they are both round (and even then, they're not really comparable: Fortune's wheel is a (mostly) literal object, whereas the Wheel of Things is a concept)) to Fortune's wheel.
    8. I agree entirely.
    10. It seemed pretty extraneous to me as well. Although, a lot of the stories seem tangential and extraneous.

    As an aside, I don't quite get this line: "The lama was his trove, and he purposed to take possession. Kim's mother had been Irish too."

    As another aside, this book feels like Canterbury Tales meets Aladdin.

  4. 5. Thanks for the info, Ben. I didn't know about the "devil" label for military men. It makes a lot of sense, and certainly comes into play later (900 pukka devils). Does regiment directly indicate 900? I can't find any evidence to the fact. I get the feeling, however, that 900 is a little like the Hebrew use of 40: that is just a heckuva lot. As far as the Red Bull on the Green Field being a flag, you're exactly right.

    I've learned a lot about Buddhism during this book. Interesting stuff.

    10. Don't disregard the horse trader. He becomes a very important character.

    I'm interested to see what you think, Ben, as you continue into the story.


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