Monday, April 12, 2010

Karmal Koating

I have to say, whatever religion I profess to, or not, at any given time, there is not a lot more appealing to me than the idea of KARMA. I don't think this is an akcident—that we are ALL drawn to the idea that people get what they deserve. In real life, I haven't had reason to believe this is really so—particularly when I look at people born to really poor cirkumstances, or with the lousiest of parents (or no parents at all). This argument for the failure of Karma is even stronger if you konfine that judgment to 'this life' (and honestly I do—heaven isn't something I exaktly put a lot of stock in for evening things out) but I think there is some truth to 'we reap what we sow' in some domains, and I believe in LITERATURE it is possibly our most useful tool for engaging the reader.

Where Karma Kongeals

I think in real life Karma holds true in konfined spaces, if that makes sense. It's like Kapitalism. It is a koncept only realistic in a klosed system. In an open system, there are too many kards—too many kracks... people see routes where akkountability fails, and krooks take advantage. I mean if a produkt is produced akross the ocean, how the heck do WE know if their business praktices are ethikal? Sheesh, there aren't enough watchdogs to make sure things produced HERE are good. My theory is that once the CEO DOESN'T know the name of an employee's KIDS, the system is doomed to fail as a check and balance--a katchment requiring good behavior, at least most of the time. (are my socialist leanings showing?--it realy has everything to do with what is REAL, not what it SHOULD BE—I just don't think the other works in a large system)

In a klosed system however, where people kan see what they get, karma and kapitalism hold their own. I think people who are krappy to OTHER people (MEAN people) eventually rein a KrapFest down upon themselves (and deservedly so). People who help others, who engage in kommitted akts to further the efforts of others... THOSE people, will also get their own... or so I need to believe, or I would lose faith in the human race.

In a world market, someone like Ken Lay or Bernie Madoff kan hide behind the board members they make very fat and feign ignorance for long enough to erase the paper trail. In a small system, right and wrong are held into akkount. By kustomers, kooperatives... karma has a far better chance.

Karmic Kalculations

This whole networking thing has a karma layer koded into it. If I'm nice to you, you're nice to me. If I do you a favor, you do me one. If I follow you, you follow me. The thing is, MOSTLY, it is pretty darned transparent. I like transparency. I follow blogs I like reading no matter who responds. (never mind that most of us respond in kind, other than the agents, who are their own kind of animal) But I also check follow for anyone who follows me or comments on mine... it is kommon kourtesy. I then go check it out several times, and if it amuses me, or if a reciprocity is begun (which typically also indicates amusement) then I add them to the side bar and they go on my permanent (or at least semi-permanent) watch list)

Okay. Now lets see where karma fits in that equation... it does (I promise). Coming to my blog (and commenting or following, so I know) earns a visit (pretty cut and dry there—an exact tit for tat). Kompatibilty needs to then be established. Do you interest me? Do I interest you? Is this a RELATIONSHIP? I enter into periodic relationships that are one sided. Chad STILL hasn't called. If it does something for me WITOUT response... I'm still there.

While unfathomable to me, I think I may have a reader or two without their own blogs who come here just because they like to... Stranger things have happened.

But the reality is, things expand by stretching our karma. We do something nice (visit) or somebody does something nice for US (refers to us—which also can start with us visiting—just less direct) and our network grows. We take part in activities that grow our network... Rinse, Repeat...

Karmic Kharakters and Konklusions

In spite of reality's refusal to fall into line, I still prefer a book with its karma in tact. I want a sense of justice by the end—the good guys have suffered (I really do like them to suffer—wonder what THAT will do to my karma)—but I want things mostly okay... I don't need (or even like) a nice tidy, happily ever after, but I want the bad kharakters to get what's coming and the good ones to prevail.

Think of Dickens, with David Kopperfield (could there BE a cuter David?) or Pip—those poor kharakters were taken through the ringer, and they didn't get the FULL ending they wanted, but they got pretty GOOD endings, didn't they?

Now I get why a writer who is uber-prolifik might want to shake it up now and again, so we don't get komplacent and THEY don't get prediktable, but if I stumble akross those books first, I somehow feel a little cheated unless they are VERY klever about it. (Seems to me Peter Straub, my go-to scary guy, has a few where the 'force' wins, and I can sort of get along with that if the protagonist has made some peace, even if it is hard on him..)

So what about all of you? Do you prefer a break even on the karma by the end, or do you have better tolerance for bad things happening to good kharakters and good happening to bad?


The Alliterative Allomorph said...

ok, haven't read it yet, but I just scheduled a post for tomorrow doing exactly the same things with the 'k' - ie replacing any 'c' sounds with it. LOL. Ok. I'm going back to read your post now ... :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think, as I get older, that I have LESS tolerance for bad guys who don't get theirs...whether in fiction or in real life. Hate to say it, but it's true. I like the idea that we all get what's coming to us and it does disappoint me when it doesn't happen. I may *appreciate* a book like that, if it's written well, but I won't *enjoy* it. And, naturally, I'm writing stuff where the bad guys always get caught. :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I too am a true believer in kalma. This is a really great post. I couldn't say it better myself :) Nice job!

Watery Tart said...

AA: Too funny! There just aren't a ton of K words, but lots of K sounds, eh? (and thanks!)'

Elizabeth-I wish so much real life fell into line more often! But I think you said it well--in fiction i might APPRECIATE a different ending, but am not nearly so likely to LIKE it.

Sophia said...

I recently commented on this issue on another blog but being a lady who is free with her opinions I don't mind repeating myself.

Basically I'm of the opinion that in media of the fictional variety (tv, movies, books) there seems to be an oversaturation of feel good happy endings. This is most likely because they are a form of escapism and who wants to escape to a world where bad stuff is still happening, right? That said, when yet another romantic comedy has an unlikely duo meeting and against their will falling in love and wouldn't-you-know-it they live happily ever after you (or at least I) start to want some realistic endings. They don't necessarily have to be the 'everyone dies' level of Hamlet but some sign that actually not everything is cured with an 'I love you' or true love's first kiss is preferable to me.
- Sophia.

Amy said...

I am a firm believer in individual karma - what goes around, comes around, for a single person. But it's hard for me to believe it large-scale.... If that makes any sense.

Oh, and, Chad hasn't called you back yet because he's still with me. *sweet smile*


A great post, especially replacing the "C" with "K" good idea that.
Excellent write and most interesting,


Sugar said...

Yuu are kreative!
I also believe in Karma. It is a bitch sometimes, but as a pagan..what you do to others comes back threefold..etc etc.. so I equate that with karma. It's something we teach our kids, I just wish everyone would live by it also. The world might be a little nicer :)

Watery Tart said...

Sophia-actually on romance, I TOTALLY agree with you--I don't like those 'too neat and tidy' endings, and I OFTEN want the heroine to figure out she is far better off alone than strapped to some testosterone laden 'arrogant but hooked on her' (or whatever the flavor of the day). I tent to read thriller or suspense, so probably this post applies more to that.

Amy-you untie Chad NOW. He has a date to meet!

Yvonne, thank you!

Sugar-teehee. I totally agree--it WOULD be a nicer place if everyone behaves as if karma worked more perfectly.

Lisa K. said...

I like the idea of karma in literature, but I'm also okay with decidedly un-karmic endings as well, if they're done right (as in, me turning the last page and knowing the book couldn't possibly have ended another way and been right) -- if that makes any sense.

In real life, I'd LOVE to believe in karma.

Megan said...

I'm BIG on Karma. And like you, I don't hold stock on Heaven.

I live my life in a way that it won't come back and bite me in the ass. I treat people with respect (unless they REALLY don't deserve it)and try to be the kind of friend I would like to have. I don't always succeed, but I think I'm doing okay.

In books, I'll kill anyone off. Even my protagonist, to hell with Karma, this is fiction!!! ;)

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I’m often frustrated when the bad guys get away with something and I find myself hoping that karma will eventually catch up with them.

Beth said...

I enjoy reading other points of view from time to time so although I don't believe in karma ... I'm okay with reading a post written by one who does. :) And the "k" thing was cute!

As for WHY I don't believe in Karma? It probably won't surprise you that I look at the world from the Christian perspective. From that point of view ... I have to admit that I am incredibly grateful that I am receiving grace and blessings rather than the penalties that I deserve because of my own bad choices. :)

Thanks for the freedom to post an alternate point of view! It's a better world when we can disagree without being disagreeable!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Very heartfelt. You truly have a heavy heart for those trampled underfoot. Great post.

Watery Tart said...

Lisa-I suppose I've seen a few of those endings that are 'exactly what they are supposed to be' even when the karma is off... it is more rare to me, though.

Megan-that is what I try to do, too--I guess my spirituality is more that we are all part of the same bigger thing... or something like that. You crack me up though, with the literary mean streak!

Jane--EXACTLY! When the bad guys get away with it it makes me NUTS!

Beth, WELCOME! And I think the 'grace of forgiveness' is a beautiful feature of Christianity--it isn't incompatible to me, as i think it requires true remorse, which changes the karma, if you will. And all points of view are ALWAYS welcome. I respect all belief systems, felt and practiced with sincerity. I believe they all point us in the right direction.

Raquel, thank you! I do have a lot of sympathy for the downtrodden or people who have fewer opportunities through no fault of their own.

Marjorie said...

I have read books that I loved that didn't have a tidy ending. I've also read books that I hated because the ending was too depressing. I've gotta have a glimmer of hope. Like in Steinbeck's East of Eden.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think the photo of the fat kid at McDonalds shocked my system - what was the question again?

Ellie said...

I struggle with karma; but do believe in karma type moments. I know people that if karma was around, they need a whooping and they live great lives. They go out of their way to manipulate people. I know I hear they will get theirs...yeah, okay, they aren't young! (relatives and in-laws) Interesting K post... I liked it~

B. Miller said...

I do enjoy a good karmic tale. I want things to be mostly even in the end. I am a firm believer in karma and I believe what goes around comes around. It's satisfying to read that happen.