Kapuściński: “Kipling’s formula”

From Ryszard Kapuscinski’s book Shah of Shahs (about the last Shah of Iran): Transcript from another interview with an Iranian man:

He was reading a lot now and translating London and Kipling. When he remembered his English years, he thought about the differences between Europe and Asia and repeated Kipling’s formula to himself: “East is east, and West is west, and never … ” Never, no, they will never meet, and they will never understand each other. Asia will reject every European transplant as a foreign body. The Europeans will be shocked and outraged, but they will be unable to change Asia. In Europe, epochs succeed each other, the new drives out the old, the earth periodically cleanses itself of its past so that people of our century have trouble understanding our ancestors. Here it is different, here the past is as alive as the present, the unpredictable cruel Stone Age coexists with the calculating, cool age of electronics — the two eras live in the same man, who is as much the descendant of Genghis Khan as he is the student of Edison … if, that is, he ever comes into contact with Edison’s world.

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