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
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.
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)
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.
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?