The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift – deliberately designed around the “magical” letter K and using a kind of Anglo-Saxon esperanto – was formed in 1920. It was thus part of the great turmoil that happened after the war: with so many millions of adolescents slaughtered, youth was at a premium, and it was beginning to develop its own self-consciousness as a separate social grouping, as well as making its first attempts to build an ideology. “Civilisation was about to die,” thought the youthful kinsman Leslie Paul, “and the future belonged only to us, the young, who were going to build a better one.”
Hargrave held that the postwar reconstruction was doomed “because the rulers have not the courage to abandon the mechanical civilised slavery which by an unseen course brought about the war”. His solution was to build up an elite group that, taking the woodcraft elements from the Scouts, was designed to be a complete fusion of aesthetics, politics and spirituality that would use the visual “as a form of magical persuasion”.
I came across this in a remembrance of Oliver Sacks by Atual Gawande:
Four weeks before Oliver Sacks died, I received a letter from him. In our all too brief correspondence, he never e-mailed. He wrote beautiful, longhand letters on heavy, cream-colored stationery with a blue fountain pen, the script slanting to the left. They were always peppered with cross-outs and insertions that gave a glimpse of his overflowing mind.
“I’m writing a piece on EYES—all sorts, from those of jellyfish and scallops and jumping spiders and octopi to our (vertebrate) eyes,” he reported. “I am also trying to write something about the (deadly) effects of ‘social-media’ when they absorb people, to the exclusion of everything else, throughout their waking hours.” He told of his delight in coming upon a century-old E. M. Forster short story called “The Machine Stops.” “Do you know it?” he asked. Forster, he said, had foreseen such possibilities.
I remember reading it in High School in English class - a class built around reading stories, short stories and poems about utopias and dystopias. Written in 1909, it is now free of copyright and worth reading.
Kullervo's tale is just one of 50 songs in the Kalevala, an epic of 22,795 verses telling the story of the Sampo, a magical object that bestows power on whoever possesses it. Tolkien used numerous plot elements from the Kalevala in his own novels - a powerful magical object, incest, battles between brothers, and orphan heroes setting out on quests.
"Kullervo is the origin story for Shakespeare's Hamlet - a young man whose uncle kills his father and on whom he wreaks a terrible vengeance," says Verlyn Flieger. "It is likely that Tolkien knew that Shakespeare had used this tale."
In The Silmarillion (begun in 1914, but only published after his death), Tolkien turns Kullervo into Turin Turambar, the warrior hero.
"I think he liked the Kalevala because it has both high and low elements," suggests Tolkien-biographer Prof John Garth from the University of Nevada. "There are clodhopping idiots, treated in a really down-to-earth, anti-heroic way. In Tolkien's own fiction, he creates totally different moods. The hobbits are very relatable, very friendly; and then the elves are much more remote."
A guest post on Kory Merritt's children's books by Sukie:
When I first found Kory Merritt’s work I felt just like I suspect I would have felt had I found Chas Addams early in his career. I knew that I was watching the budding of genius.
Strong words? Kory Merritt’s work is quirky, at times spooky without being too scary for grade school kids, and he can make even the most improbable characters multidimensional and endearing in his art work, wording, and plots. Besides, he has managed to come up with many of the most amazing ice cream flavor names ever devised, and some of the strangest characters. To see some of those characters just go to
Although I am a lot older than 14 and some of our relatives are younger than 11, we and they already have preorders for the book which will come out in early October.
So, if you enjoy moving characters with strange appearances, fun stories, and seeking unexpected hidden gems then definitely give _The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York, a Yarn for the Strange at Heart_ a try!
If you want to share info on a fun book with people who have children, classes, libraries, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or others who are young at heart then pass along this post to them. Feel free! I do not mind being quoted about how marvelous Kory’s work can be and has been. With a first issue of 5,000 copies I expect them to sell out fast and do not want to wait for the second printing so have already ordered, an action I recommend.
But this success story is beginning to look more complicated: some hospitals have been unable to replicate the impressive results of initial trials. An analysis of more than 200,000 procedures at 101 hospitals in Ontario, Canada, for example, found no significant reductions in complications or deaths after surgical-safety checklists were introduced2. “We see this all the time,” says David Urbach, a surgeon at the University of Toronto who led the Ontario analysis. “A lot of studies that should be a slam dunk don't seem to work in practice.” The stakes are high, because poor use of checklists means that people may be dying unnecessarily.
A cadre of researchers is working to make sense of the discrepancies. They are finding a variety of factors that can influence a checklist's success or failure, ranging from the attitudes of staff to the ways that administrators introduce the tool. The research is part of the growing field of implementation science, which examines why some innovations that work wonderfully in experimental trials tend to fall flat in the real world. The results could help to improve the introduction of other evidence-based programmes, in medicine and beyond.