Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Herringswell Manor School karass

From a post by Scott Alexander, To The Great City!, he notes:
But Kurt Vonnegut writes about the difference between two kinds of teams. A granfalloon is a team of people pushed together for some ordinary human purpose, like learning medicine or running a hospital psychiatry department. They may get to know each other well. They may like each other. But in the end, the purpose will be achieved, and they’ll go their separate ways.

A karass is a group of people brought together by God for some purpose of His own. No matter how little time they spend together, or how poorly organized they might be, they’ll always be on the same wavelength and have a special kinship with each other.
I am not a big Vonnegut reader and had never heard of granfalloons and karasses before.

Urban Dictionary's definition of karass is:
A group of people linked in a cosmically significant manner, even when superficial linkages are not evident.
Digging around, I find that the term is used in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle (1963).
We Bokonists believe that humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass by Bokonon "If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons," writes Bokonon, "that person may be a member of your karass." At another point in The Books of Bokonon he tells us, "Man created the checkerboard; God created the karass." By that he means that a karass ignores national, institutional, occupational, familial, and class boundaries. It is as free form as an amoeba.
I was a student at an international boarding school in England decades ago, a school which only existed for some twenty years. In that time there were perhaps at most a couple of thousand students who were boarders there. They were of many different nationalities, religions, cultures, and whose parents lived in many different countries, etc., and with virtually nothing in common except sharing a unique experience in a remote isolated spot of long ago England. Our lives were tangled up with one another for no very obvious reasons. Our karass did ignore "national, institutional, occupational, familial, and class boundaries." Yet the bonds forged have been lifelong.

I am glad to have a name for such an intense shared relationship that has no ostensible pattern or purpose. My Herringswell Manor School karass.

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