Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing with Vim

February 01st, 2018 by G.

If the things in Kipling’s poem are painful and stressful for you, and you struggle all night, and do them: yours is the Earth and everything in it. If you come at them mentally prepared, wake up at 10 AM, and do them with a smile: yours is the Earth and everything in it.

thus SPDI

I paint a gloomy picture, but I actually mean to do the opposite. Because the male bargain is: if you can avoid the pitfalls, you have dominion over the earth. It is a long road, fraught with danger and difficulty, but for men, it is the only one that actually leads somewhere—and in this case, “somewhere” means “WILD SUCCESS.”

Heck yes.

Comments (20)
Filed under: Birkenhead Drill,Deseret Review | Tags:
February 01st, 2018 06:00:49

February 1, 2018

It’s funny, my thinking on this is still not…well-arranged.

Confession time: I have always been terrible at and neglectful of easy, mundane things. Laundry. Sleep habits. Homework. You get the idea.

These are not really things one can be “terrible” at — going to bed is not a fantastic display of skill — but I was, because I didn’t do them. I couldn’t understand how others could, so consistently.

Meanwhile: I’ve always been pretty great at everything else. But the proper picture to have is of Gulliver, powerful beyond measure compared to the Lilliputians, held down by a thousand tiny strings.

What I have recently realized is that I have expected reality to entertain me. Fear and peril would have (and have) roused my will toward courage, but Nothing had me beat quite soundly.

When I would get frustrated with myself and Decide to Shape Up, I would succeed—for a week or so. Mundane tasks do not provide enough psychological reward to sustain life on a mental war footing. I’d get frustrated that I was putting in “all this effort” and only getting…well, clean clothes, a clean sink, a good night’s sleep.

So (and here we near the poem) it was quite a revelation to me that I could bring a low level of effort to these tasks, and be bored(the Terror), and accept that, and get them done. It sounds incredibly pedestrian when said like that—but everything is simple when laid out correctly. Laying it out correctly is 80% of the battle.

I could dream, but dreams were my master.

February 1, 2018

“What I have recently realized is that I have expected reality to entertain me. ”

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

February 1, 2018

Is Vim attractive and single? I’d like to meet her.

President Donald J. Trump
February 1, 2018

“What I have recently realized is that I have expected reality to entertain me.”

Thank you for your support.

February 1, 2018

– @SPDI, I think I understand what G quoted in his post a little better after I read your comment.
The way I usually get through mundane tasks is to imagine that I’m imposing order on chaos and thus, in a very small way, doing God’s work. So I guess I do the opposite of being bored – instead of accepting that chores are boring and getting them done, I make it interesting by, I don’t know, turning them into an extension of a cosmic struggle. Your mileage may vary.

Urbane Guy
February 1, 2018

Wildly successful people usually hire people to do the laundry, cleaning, cut the grass, etc.

T. Greer
February 2, 2018

Yours is the world and everything that is in it, because for Kipling the final victory is victory over yourself. The prize you win is… you. It is a self consciously Stoic ideal.

I am amused s bit when the manosphere stumbles upon Stoicism and thinks it has invented something new in the world.

February 2, 2018

That is not all that Kipling meant. Nor, if he did, should a civilization’s canon be limited to the original intentions and worldview of their authors. The muse is always a co-author. The muse is not of flesh and blood.

Ivan Wolfe
February 2, 2018

Wondering where my father’s wild success was, then. I guess it depends on what “wild success” means. He was certainly successful at making stellar athletes out of a modest or less than stellar talent pool. He was successful at making our Church district into a Stake when he was district president. But I get the idea the “manosphere” here thinks wild success means money, fame, and women.

I find this somewhat fascinating. I got rather upset in Church last week when the elder’s quorum lesson went in the direction that keeping the commandments, especially the sabbath day, meant you would get lots of money, never struggle financially, be able to afford a really big house and have lots of nice, expensive cars. I actually walked out, lest I start calling everyone to repentance on that.

February 2, 2018

“Wondering where my father’s wild success was”

You’re a critical component of it.

February 2, 2018

But perhaps that’s a copout. Let’s go by the worldly perspective of money, fame, women.

Most men are not wild successes. If one imagines, oh, we’ll call it “Laman’s dream,” in which a golden rod leads through various pitfalls, most of us let go and are led into divers paths and cul-de-sacs.

Kipling mostly describes ways to self-sabotage, and, in my opinion, this is a very big deal, because most of us, certainly not in the West, don’t fail from lack of opportunity. Rather, we make some sort of error—often repeatedly. The man who has mastered himself (and this can be a multi-decade project) has eliminated a major source of problems and frustrations, and is that much more free to simply scoop up “the Earth, and everything that’s in it.” Certainly someone who hasn’t mastered themselves will start to sense an invisible upper bound to what they can achieve.

February 2, 2018

> multi-decade project

Or multi-century, multi-millennia…

February 2, 2018

Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things.

Irenaeus of Lyons
February 2, 2018

“And if any one,” He says, “shall compel thee [to go] a mile, go with him twain; ” so that thou mayest not follow him as a slave, but may as a free man go before him, showing thyself in all things kindly disposed and useful to thy neighbour, not regarding their evil intentions, but performing thy kind offices, assimilating thyself to the Father, “who maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and unjust.”

February 3, 2018

I see a tie-in to Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking”, and the general concept of the Law of Attraction.

Peale’s book was incorrectly labeled “wishful thinking.” But I think the real motive behind his detractors was that he preached repentance (including confession) and keeping the commandments. That was what progressives really didn’t like about his message.

I found the book last year at Goodwill, and was pleasantly surprised when I read it. Though I can see how a quick-read of only certain parts may lead someone to conclude it’s about “wishful thinking.”

He merely didn’t include enough parentheticals and asides to head off the kind of superficial criticisms that modern intellectuals and progressives like to engage in. You actually have to read several chapters in their entirety to get the picture.

I don’t know what all is included in the Law of Attraction, but the gospel tie-in I see is that the Lord blesses those who “show up”, show some degree of faith, and are prepared to receive blessings.

T. Greer
February 5, 2018

The key line in Kipling’s poem is “If you can meet triumph and disaster / and treat those two imposters just the same.” Wild success and utter defeat are two sides of the same coin. For Kipling they are interchangable; niether is real, both illusionary “imposters” created by our own fascinations. Thus the need to risk all our successes on “one turn of pitch and toss”–in the end we are not risking anything, to have our winnings or to forfeit them is the same either way. Kipling is indifferent to victory (or rather defines so.differently that the world.cannot grasp it). Whether we be with kings or in crowds, whether lied about, or mistrusted, whether our words are twisted, whether our life works are broken-kit does not matter, as these are not the measures that matter. If you truly believe that then all the earth and everything that is in it will truly be yours, for there will be nothing with the power to conquer or defeat you. This includes people. Readers don’t often dwell on the implications of that line, but we ought to spell it out: No brother, no father, no son can add to or detract from the success of the Kipling man. “all men count with” him, but “none [count] too much.” The only thing that counts are the things that actually can defeat him. Thoughts that stupor deeds, dreams that drown actions, character maligned by one’s own dishonesty. His most dramatic enemy is the unforgiving minute–but what else does that mean than his own flesh amd blood, the heart, and nerve, and sinew that stops him from going on? No, his battle is not for money, or friends, or women, or hacking hypergamous dynamics. He does not strive to master the world at all. He strives to master himself. The world is a side bonus Kipling states quite emphatically that the it pales next to the real reward:

“Which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”

February 5, 2018

With respect, I think you are making the same mistake that people make when they read the scriptures. They totalize. They find one undoubtedly true interpretation of an element that is undoubtedly there, and then reinterpret everything else in light of that interpretation, like you have done upstream by calling “Yours is the Earth and everything that is in it” as a metaphor for victory over the self. Its not. The “things you gave your life to” are real things.

Also, the way you keep dragging in the manosphere is bizarre. SPDI is a good sort and your critiques would be more credible if you dealt with what he wrote on its own terms.

T. Greer
February 5, 2018

1) SPDI is the one who dragged the word “hypergamy” into “If–“, not I. If you are going to use the lingo folks in the Manosphere use to signal their wokeness to each other, you should not be surprised or offended when other people register the signal.

2) We’ll have to agree to disagree. I believe that this interpretation of the poem poisons its meaning, and is incompatible with its text, the Stoic sources that informed it, the actual events that inspired it, and the rest of Kipling’s ouvre. If I make a mistake it is probably on that last note–I am too familiar with the other things Kipling wrote to think he has suddenly changed his meaning here. “If–” is not the first place he discusses possessing the earth, after all:

One may fall but he falls by himself–
Falls by himself with himself to blame.
One may attain and to him is pelf–
Loot of the city in Gold or Fame.
Plunder of earth shall be all his own
Who travels the fastest and travels alone.

From “Epitaphs of the War” the same theme gets a different setting:

A. “I was a Have.” B. “I was a ‘have-not.’”
(Together). “What hast thou given which I gave not?”

His short stories (and his first novel, The Light That Failed) are too long to quote here, so you’ll excuse me for making general comments only. They inevitably seem to turn around one of two themes–unrequited love (there is reason that “if–” mentions “no man” but not “no woman”), and the man tossed about by fate. The Kipling hero lives in a grounded world of things and sights and smells. Kipling revels in their description. In their concreteness. He is not a metaphysical warrior. Neither are his protagonists, The Earth and everything that is in it is real to them. The things he builds are worth building. But their destruction is common; defeat is often inevitable. What the Kipling hero labors for so often does not matter, if by matter we mean building things that stand and last. Success is in all of his works an imposter–never lasting, never holding, always subject to Laws and Gods and Fate beyond one man’s control. The take away of the stories is clear enough: the true measure of a man is never what he has but what he does (and at its pinnacle, as in, “If–“, what he is). You conquer yourself, because if you do not, the world owns you instead of the other way around. It is an inspiring vision, if not an entirely happy one.

Thus calling “Triumph and Disaster” interchangeable imposters isn’t just at the center of this poem–it is at the center of his world view. You don’t have to like that aspect of the poem, but to strip it out in the name of “wild success” is to fundamentally alter its original meaning.

And that’s fine. The thing about poetry is you can take lines you like and use them to your own purpose without reference to the rest of the poem–much less the rest of the author’s work. It’s an old tradition. I do that all the time. SPDI can do it here if he wishes, I won’t argue against it any further. I’ve said what I’d like to say, and I’ll leave.

Ivan Wolfe
February 5, 2018

G. –
was that directed to T Greer, me, or both?

February 9, 2018

I’ve read most everything Kipling writes including some fairly mediocre war reporting and newspaper articles. While what you call stoicism is definitely there, he also definitely celebrates the material world and success in it. He is not an ascetic at all. I think of McAndrew’s Hymn:–“Lord, thou has made the world below the shadow of dream, and taught by time I take it so [here’s what you call stoicism], excepting always steam! [and here is the triumphant final phrase rejecting that otherworldliness in the area the man of the poem knows best]”

In IF winning the race matters. The stuff you’re building is worth building. Kipling is not a prosperity gospeller, of course not, but no one has said that he is. SPDI’s post certainly doesn’t take the view that Kipling is one. As far as I can tell, you were triggered by the word “hypergamy” in it and started blasting away at strawmen left and right with your not inconsiderable intellectual firepower. In a way I’m glad you did. I’ve enjoyed and benefited from reading your thoughts on Kipling. But neither SPDI nor his post deserve the treatment.

Leave a Reply