Author Topic: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage  (Read 8855 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« on: June 07, 2013, 02:19:07 AM »
Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage

by Rudyard Kipling

“At The End Of The Passage” (1902) was originally published in the August 1890 issue of Lippincott’s Magazine. The description of the country suggests the desert of Upper Rajputana, north of Jodhpur which Kipling visited as a correspondent. It is available online to read here

(JOSEPH) RUDYARD KIPLING (1865–1936) was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist chiefly remembered for his tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. He was born in Bombay, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including THE JUNGLE BOOK (which includes “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”), JUST SO STORIES (1902), KIM (1901) and many short stories, including “The Man Who Would Be King” and his poems, including “Mandalay”, “Gunga Din”, and “If—”. He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story, his children’s books are enduring classics of children’s literature and his best works are said to exhibit “a versatile and luminous narrative gift”. Kipling’s ghostly tales evince a powerful interest in the psychological, and their subtlety and indirection can be very impressive.

Your reader this week - Alasdair Stuart - needs no introduction - so click the link in his name and go read his blog instead!

“The sky is lead and our faces are red / And the gates of Hell are opened and riven / And the winds of Hell are loosened and driven, And the dust flies up in the face of Heaven / And the clouds come down in a fiery sheet / Heavy to raise and hard to be borne / And the soul of man is turned from his meat / Turned from the trifles for which he has striven / Sick in his body, and heavy-hearted / And his soul flies up like the dust in the sheet / Breaks from his flesh and is gone and departed / As the blasts they blow on the cholera-horn”



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Listen to this week's Pseudopod.


"Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are your own fears."
I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
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Just Jeff

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2013, 12:29:11 PM »
I like this one a lot more than "The Abyss" but still not quite worth the time. Elder stories are a hard sell for me, although I love most of the Carnacki stories.

MacArthurBug

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2013, 03:54:48 PM »
It is almost physically impossible for me to dislike a story read by Al.

This story is not my usual flavor of terror. It felt "unspeakable horror of the old Gods" esque, which is usually something that will make me walk away in disgust. I was honestly intrigued by the flow of this story. After a long terrible wet winter and a wetter spring it's something of a wonder to think of heat as a terrible thing. To think what that can do the mind of a man. Then again as a (temporarily  displaced) native of the desert, I know first hand how terrible and awful constant persistent the heat can be. I liked the end. I liked the characters. If you lot keep this up I may well end up a convert to all tale types yet.
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flintknapper

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2013, 08:10:51 PM »
This isn't my favorite Kipling. It is going to sound cliché but The Man Who Would be King is my favorite. However, this is a great story. Like all of Kipling's work, it is really the setting that makes the story. If someone mentions India to me, I picture the subcontinent the way Kipling writes it, a dangerous place with little moral fiber and where a may has to be on his guard every moment of every day.

As for the racism. I would say it relic of the times. Most white men at the turn of the twentieth century were racists. I can look past it.

However, I think here it is fitting. The racism adds a subtle horror element. Colonialism is a racist enterprise and a horrific one.

I am bias though. Kipling is a god. He was one of my inspirations not only in writing but in my profession.

Lastly, I am going to suggest it. If you guys are playing with Kipling, it is a short jaunt down the road to Conrad. Are we going to see Heart of Darkness on a future pseudopod? or perhaps something by Achebe?

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2013, 10:12:34 PM »
From my research, Whist or Bumblepuppy? is the definitive players handbook for the card game in the story. Does anyone know anyone who actively plays this?
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Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2013, 12:18:14 AM »
I had actually planned to reread HOD sometime soon but wasn't really thinking as an episode - more old stuff coming soon in a special offer. Howzabout B. Traven? (don't make me back that up, though) 

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2013, 01:13:44 PM »
This one gets around, so I was familiar with it already. Even so, I enjoyed hearing a good reading of it. As others here have noted, the setting is what makes the story. I find the strained lifestyle of the young men living far away from their original home the most interesting aspect of the situation.  Though I feel like Kipling, perhaps unsurprisingly given his viewpoint, dismisses criticisms of the imperial presence in the country too easily. And oddly enough, the story actually seems to back up the criticism as the Western presence depicted here feels pointless and hopeless whether one blames its failures on local princes or not. Maybe that's the grim reality the author is really hinting at though behind the scenes? I wonder. Coming from a city background seems almost a disadvantage in this environment. Modern sophistication isn't much help against night terrors, and modern medicine merely seemed to hasten the death of the curse victim.

Anyway, the restrained but clear recognition of the toll such pressures can take on people in far away places, whether they be soldiers or diplomats, is really fascinating here, and as real and valid an issue today as it was a hundred years ago.

Cynandre

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2013, 03:21:54 PM »
I got lost somewhere so I may have to listen again. I actually enjoy some of Rudyard Kipling's works, but have never read or heard this one.


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« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 12:23:51 PM by Cynandre »
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adrianh

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2013, 03:17:24 AM »
Love the story - but then it's pretty hard for me to think of a Kipling story I don't like.

For once Alasdair's reading didn't quite work for me.

Not because it was bad in any way, but the voices in my head from the previous times I've read the story were a bit more stiff-upper-lip in some of the places where Alasdair's interpretation were a little bit more emotional.

Plenty of room in the story for either interpretation - but the one in my head wins ;-)


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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2013, 08:31:00 AM »
Hmmm... second one in a row that I didn't really get.  It's entirely possible, (and entirely appropriate to the subject material here) that sleep deprivation is messing with me.

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2013, 11:14:08 AM »
I'd say give it another try - it's not as impenetrable as "The Abyss" (which is somewhat due to the public domain translation out of Russian - because Dedalus Books didn't get back to me about using their more recent translation) and probably only suffers from having more characters than I generally like to keep things trackable for the listening audience.  No more old classics for a while - 3 big names coming up this Summer (#350 is on the way!)

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2013, 01:38:05 PM »
I'd say give it another try - it's not as impenetrable as "The Abyss" (which is somewhat due to the public domain translation out of Russian - because Dedalus Books didn't get back to me about using their more recent translation) and probably only suffers from having more characters than I generally like to keep things trackable for the listening audience.  No more old classics for a while - 3 big names coming up this Summer (#350 is on the way!)

I don't have anything against old classics.  Usually I like stuff from a bygone era, which is why i thought maybe the lack of sleep is interfering here--an old classic is generally going to require more of my attention to parse, and I may just not be capable of that right now.

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2013, 01:12:25 AM »
Did anyone else think this US-radio style intro and outro was really weird and didn't fit the usual tone of pseudopod? (I have to admit though that this is the first episode in half a year I listened to)

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2013, 07:57:47 AM »
Did anyone else think this US-radio style intro and outro was really weird and didn't fit the usual tone of pseudopod? (I have to admit though that this is the first episode in half a year I listened to)

It was definitely different, and would take some getting used to.  Was a bit longer and unphilosophical compared to what Alasdair usually provides. 

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2013, 08:33:44 AM »
Alex, one of our regular slush readers, did a great job:) it's always nice to get a different perspective and honestly? I'd have been tapped out doing a story that long and formal and THEN
writing and recording an outro about it. Alex did me a solid and I'll be eternally grateful:)

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2013, 02:40:36 PM »
So, I actually got the exact same reaction when I mentioned that I enjoyed Kim. Sadly, it was from a freaking college professor, back when I was interviewing at schools (I didn't end up going to that school, and this wasn't why, but I have to admit that it tempered my negative feelings when I was wait-listed). I said that I enjoyed Kim and she looked down her nose at me and said "oh... the white man's burden, right?" I was pretty disgusted. Yes, Kipling's attitudes are appalling, by modern standards. He doesn't even get much credit for his time, as he had contemporaries - as the story mentioned - who were also opposed to Britain's rampant colonialism. That doesn't make his prose any less beautiful and his stories any less touching. To dismiss the sum of a classic author's work as "that racist who wrote about the white man's burden" is pretty awful.

Additionally, I think this story underlined the fact that some people deluded themselves into believing that they were doing some good for the people they invaded. They saw themselves as modern Romans, whose primary interest was in enriching themselves and adding to their empire, but building infrastructure and "enlightening" the locals was a close second.

Of course, they were terribly wrong... but I have to admit that this lends some of this era's people a certain tragedy. They wanted so badly to be good, but they were blinded by their own avarice and ambition. It doesn't make them right - it makes it sad that they were wrong.

That said, I didn't like this story much. It just... didn't really gel for me. It never quite came together, coherently, for me. That said, the prose was - unsurprisingly - gorgeous and atmospheric. I have to admit, despite my earlier defense of Kipling, in theory, the casual racism did take me out of the story and limit my engagement with the characters, though I view that as a personal preference rather than a categorical flaw.
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Fenrix

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2013, 06:46:21 AM »

Did anyone else think this US-radio style intro and outro was really weird and didn't fit the usual tone of pseudopod? (I have to admit though that this is the first episode in half a year I listened to)


It was definitely different, and would take some getting used to.  Was a bit longer and unphilosophical compared to what Alasdair usually provides. 



Alex, one of our regular slush readers, did a great job:) it's always nice to get a different perspective and honestly? I'd have been tapped out doing a story that long and formal and THEN writing and recording an outro about it. Alex did me a solid and I'll be eternally grateful:)


It's an honor to sit in Alasdair's chair for a bit, and I'm glad I could help make his week a bit smoother. I can't do the insightful philosophical essays that Al can, so I'm not even going to try. The first couple I did were more related to sausage making. Every time I've gotten together with Matt to record something for the show, we've had hours-long rambling conversations about horror. This one we tried out an outro that was more conversational. There's no way we could have done a script and made it sound good (personal limitations not technical). Our first run clocked in at around 45 minutes, but it was awesome fun and I learned that Matt has some solid interviewing skills. We then discussed what piece of the prior conversation we wanted to try to recreate and had another conversation rather than try to edit the behemoth down. We were proud when we hit the upload button. I've not done much of anything like this and hope a few people enjoyed it half as much as I did.

I don't have a decent setup to do recordings, and I couldn't accomplish any of this without Matt's help. Matt's had touches on PseudoPod for longer than I have. The second thing that podded out had his music in the background, and Set Down This had his music in the outro. I could very well be forgetting other production and audio touches he did along the way. There's been a lot of opportunities since 2006.

I hope it wasn't so painful that you just hit the skip button, although I could totally sympathize if you did. I also hope the vocab bit up front helped, as I tried to load up some of the things I had to stop reading to go hit a dictionary. I think I may now have a goal to have a significant percentage of endcaps for the podcast. One more will push me above 3%, which would make me a significant margin of error. Now I just have to find the right moment.  :)
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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2013, 08:35:25 AM »
It's an honor to sit in Alasdair's chair for a bit, and I'm glad I could help make his week a bit smoother. I can't do the insightful philosophical essays that Al can, so I'm not even going to try.

And you shouldn't try.  I guarantee that no one can be as good at being Alasdair as Alasdair is.  You can only be yourself and bring what interests you to the episode.

I hope it wasn't so painful that you just hit the skip button, although I could totally sympathize if you did. I also hope the vocab bit up front helped, as I tried to load up some of the things I had to stop reading to go hit a dictionary. I think I may now have a goal to have a significant percentage of endcaps for the podcast. One more will push me above 3%, which would make me a significant margin of error. Now I just have to find the right moment.  :)

I didn't say it was painful, and I didn't intend to imply it.  What I made were more just observations on the differences.  If I had to make suggestion for the future, I would suggest making an outro somewhat shorter, but it wasn't anywhere near painfully long or worth skipping over.  And though it was less philosophical, that was meant as an observation, not a criticism--whatever you're comfortable talking about is great, I just made the comment because after so many years of Alasdair outros it feels weird to have something different.

:)

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2013, 08:35:53 AM »
 And the vocab in the intro was very useful.  I would've had no idea what "cooly" meant otherwise, for instance.

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Re: Pseudopod 337: At The End Of The Passage
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2013, 07:18:31 PM »

If I had to make suggestion for the future, I would suggest making an outro somewhat shorter, but it wasn't anywhere near painfully long or worth skipping over.  And though it was less philosophical, that was meant as an observation, not a criticism--whatever you're comfortable talking about is great, I just made the comment because after so many years of Alasdair outros it feels weird to have something different.

:)

PseudoPod thrives on making you feel uncomfortable.

If I had to pick between a long intro and a long outro, I'll take the long outro seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Skip to the next track is easier than fast forwarding. I think I was aiming at something more Dunesteef-y minus O8OT. But five minutes is probably a more reasonable time constraint than ten.

I appreciate the feedback and I assure you that my feelings aren't hurt. I am fully aware that I am the amateur hobbyist in the room.
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