G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to Open a New Book. And a Georgian Lady!

Today April 23 2014 is World Book Day




"Here's a lovely old advisory from William Matthews Bookseller, explaining how to open a book for the first time, which was a major operation in the age of hand-sewn hardcover bindings."

courtesy: Dangerous Minds  and Boing Boing

Undressing a Georgian / Victorian lady too perhaps needed instructions like the above.

In the passage below, just ignore the passions and focus on the skills:

"...“Let’s go to bed, Tillie.”
Eyes closed, she nodded.
He removed the pins from her hair, placing them on the mantel, then took her tresses into two fists and buried his face in it, inhaling deeply.
Her knees weakened, but she remained still, allowing him all the time he wanted.
Finally, he brushed it behind her back, then dipped down to find her collar fastenings. She reached up to detach it, but he pushed her hands away.
“Tonight,” he said, “I will be your lady’s maid, and I will do for you what you have done countless times for others.” His eyes slid to half-mast. “But this will be much, much more enjoyable.”
Flushing, she stood motionless as he tenderly removed collar and cuffs, setting them next to her pins on the mantel. Kneeling before her, he untied her boots, then slipped them off.
Still on one knee, he twisted to hold his hands to the fire before slipping them blindly beneath her skirts. She jumped, bracing her fingertips against his shoulders as he whisked her garters off and rolled down her stockings.
The plank floor was cold and rough beneath her feet, giving her blessed relief from the flush overtaking her body.
Bodice, overskirt, skirt lining, skirt, petticoat, corset cover, corset, and chemise. With the removal of each layer, he whispered words of praise and awe, paid homage in the age-old way of man, and then carefully attended to the piece of clothing in his hands, shaking it out before hooking it on a peg. Finally, his breathing deep, his eyes fierce, he lifted the bed linen.
She slid beneath the covers, heart full, every nerve quivering. He made quick work of his own clothing, suspenders swinging, articles flying..."

  (from 'Maid to Match' by Deeanne Gist, 2010)


Isobel Carr, a historical re-enactor who writes Georgian romance novels, has given a dozen demonstrations for romance writers in the past six years. Her "underwear through the ages" seminar covers the Tudor, Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras. 

Typically, she comes fully dressed, then disrobes down to her undergarments. Ms. Carr says she tries to amend common misconceptions while performing her striptease—including the anachronistic use of silk underwear. All delicates were "plain white linen," she says. 

Corsets are another common stumbling block. "I try to show that corsets are back-lacing, and they have to be completely unlaced to take them off," she says. "I've seen scenes in books where they've been yanked off overhead, and you can't do that." 

Novelist Delilah Marvelle took Ms. Carr's seminar twice, at romance conventions in 2006 and 2008, because she was struggling to describe unmentionables, as 19th-century women called their underthings. The workshop helped her craft the following passage in her 2008 novel "Mistress of Pleasure."

"Maybelle undid the lacing that held her petticoats in place and let them drop from around her waist down to her slippered feet, leaving her only in her chemise, corset and stockings. She could feel him tugging and pulling as he worked to undo the long set of laces on her corset."..."



Artist: Thomas Rowlandson (1756 - 1827), 1791


"...If the British Library’s exhibition gives the reality of the age, it is Rowlandson’s work that transmits its essential flavours, the tang and boisterousness of the times and their irreverence...

...Rowlandson was highly political, although far from partisan. In 1784, he produced prints both for and against Charles James Fox (with his portly figure and bushy eyebrows, a cartoonist’s dream) and during George III’s first illness, he was paid to make prints supporting the prince of Wales’s bid for the regency while later drawing various loyalist subjects.

Royalty and politicians were merely at the sharp end of a society that fascinated him. Partly because of his spendthrift nature and unsuccessful gambling forays, he was forced to churn out great numbers of works: the mores of the age were a rich source. The preposterousness of old men wooing young women, the pretensions of the military, the nonsense of fashion, the scrum of the theatre: it all attracted his eye. What his humour tends to hide, however, is the skill of his draughtsmanship and that when he allowed himself to be gentle – while painting a riverside scene at Ferrybridge in Yorkshire, for example – he was capable of great beauty.

If the British Library show were reduced to just one object to represent the Georgian century, Rowlandson himself would be the ideal exhibit..."

(

Rowlandson...our history of late 18th century, early 19th century would have become so more interesting...in Maharashtra, he would have loved to caricature Bajirao II and his amorous pursuits...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If Charlie Chaplin Came Along Today...

Today April 16 2014 is 125th Birth Anniversary of Charlie Chaplin



George Orwell, Film Review, 'The Great Dictator' in Time & Tide, December 21 1940:


"...What is Chaplin's peculiar gift? It is his power to stand for a sort of concentrated essence of the common man, for the ineradicable belief in decency that exists in the hearts of ordinary people, at any rate in the West. We live in a period in which democracy is almost everywhere in retreat, supermen in control of three-quarters of the world, liberty explained away by sleek professors, Jew-baiting defended by pacifists. And yet everywhere, under the surface, the common man sticks obstinately to the beliefs that he derives from the Christian culture. The common man is wiser than the intellectuals, just as animals are wiser than men. Any intellectual can make you out a splendid "case" for smashing the German Trade Unions and torturing the Jews. But the common man, who has no intellect, only instinct and tradition, knows that "it isn't right." Anyone who has not lost his moral sense—and an education in Marxism and similar creeds consists largely in destroying your moral sense—knows that "it isn't right" to march into the houses of harmless little Jewish shopkeepers and set fire to their furniture. More than in any humorous trick, I believe, Chaplin's appeal lies in his power to reassert the fact, overlaid by Fascism and, ironically enough, by Socialism, that vox populi is vox Dei and giants are vermin.
No wonder that Hitler, from the moment he came to power, has banned Chaplin's films in Germany!...If our Government had a little more imagination they would subsidize The Great Dictator heavily and would make every effort to get a few copies into Germany—a thing that ought not to be beyond human ingenuity..."



Andrew O'Hehir:

"...As his (Alfred Hitchcock) onetime star Tippi Hedren has recently discussed, his treatment of her while shooting “The Birds” and “Marnie” would today be considered sexual harassment, if not sexual abuse. Nearly all of that, emotionally speaking, is visible on screen. Hitchcock’s masterfully constructed suspense classics contain many levels, but we already knew they documented an intense and partly hostile obsession with a certain variety of unavailable, unfaithful and untrustworthy woman. Hitchcock’s sins are far enough in the past that his reputation as a filmmaker has suffered little or not at all from these revelations. Contrast that to Charlie Chaplin, whose career was pretty well destroyed by political persecution and a series of sex scandals (involving teenage girls) in the 1940s. It took 30 years for public opinion to move past that stuff, and for Chaplin to be restored to the pantheon as one of the medium’s all-time greats..."

Woody Allen:

"...Even in a popular art form like film, in the U.S. most people haven’t seen The Bicycle Thief or The Grand Illusion or Persona. Most people go through their whole lives without seeing any of them. Most of the younger generation supporting the films that are around now in such abundance don’t care about Buñuel or Bergman. They’re not aware of the highest achievements of the art form. Once in a great while something comes together by pure accident of time and place and chance. Charlie Chaplin came along at the right time. If he’d come along today, he’d have had major problems..."
 
My late mother had had some  tough years. I don't think she ever went without food but I guess, at her mother's home,  on a few days a year, there was not enough to go around.


Such days were not entirely scarce even after her marriage to my father in 1957.

She used to tell me about a scene from David Lean's  'Dr. Zhivago' (1965) where a woman is shown eating a boiled potato. She said she was so hungry while watching the scene that she was envious of that poor woman!

She was lucky that she wasn't watching Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush', 1925. 

The late V V Shirwadkar (वि. वा. शिरवाडक) says:

"'...गोल्ड रश' हा चार्ली चॅप्लिनचा मला वाटते, अखेरचा मूक चित्रपट होता. मूक चित्रपटाचे सारे ऐश्वर्य, शब्दावाचून बोलण्याचे सारे सामथ्र्य त्यात प्रगट झाले होते... अनेक दिवसांच्या उपासानंतर चार्लीने व त्याच्या धिप्पाड मित्राने पायांतील बूट उचलून टेबलावर ठेवले आहेत आणि एखादे पक्वान्न पुढय़ात आहे अशा आविर्भावाने काटय़ाचमच्यांनी ते बूट खात आहेत..."

(...'The Gold Rush' is I feel Charlie Chaplin's  last silent film. All the wealth of silent films, strength of speaking without words manifested themselves in it...after going without food for many days Charlie and his gigantic friend have kept their shoes on the table and they eat those shoes with spoon and fork as if it is some kind of delicacy...)

When you are hungry probably even shoes taste alright.

Comedians at Lunch: W C Fields, Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Groucho Marx 

(notice the shoe in Chaplin's hand!)

Artist: Albert "Al" Hirschfeld (1903-2003), Published: May 1 2000


Courtesy: Al Hirschfeld Foundation. Please visit http://www.alhirschfeldfoundation.org/splash/

 I watched Buster Keaton's 'The General', 1926 only a few years ago.

The 'silences' of Chaplin and Keaton are different.



David Thomson / Peter Aspden“Chaplin made silence one more way of seeming above the world, while Keaton’s quiet is as stricken as ruined philosophy. So Chaplin is silently noisy with protestation and pleas for affection, and Keaton suspects the deepest things cannot be told or uttered.”

I feel closer to Keaton's silence.


Artist: Alain, The New Yorker, 20 January 1934

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Noah's Ark and Rama's Bridge: Powered by Geology

Today Chaitra-purnima (चैत्र पोर्णिमा) April 15 2014 is Hanuman Jayani (हनुमान जयंती) and the birth anniversary of my aunt Kumud-mavashi (कुमुद-मावशी)

When I lived in Miraj (मिरज), a town of gymnasiums (तालीम), the day used to be very special.

Wendy Doniger, 'The Hindus : an alternative history', 2009:

"..Indeed flood myths are found in most of the mythologies of the world: Africa, the Near East, Australia, South Seas, Scandinavia, the Americas, China, Greece. They are widespread because floods are widespread, especially along the great rivers that nurture early civilizations (and even more widespread in the lands watered by the monsoons). There are significant variants: Some cultures give one reason for the flood, some other reasons, some none; sometimes one person survives, sometimes several, sometimes many (seldom none—or who could tell the story?—though the creator sometimes starts from scratch again); some survive in boats, some by other means. 

In the oldest extant Indian variant, in the Brahmanas, Manu, the first human being, the Indian Adam, finds a tiny fish who asks him to save him from the big fish who will otherwise eat him. This is an early expression of concern about animals being eaten, in this case by other animals; “fish eat fish,” what we call “dog eat dog,” is the Indian term for anarchy. The fish promises, in return for Manu’s help, to save Manu from a great flood that is to come. Manu protects the fish until he is so big that he is “beyond destruction” and then builds a ship (the fish tells him how to do it); the fish pulls the ship to a mountain, and when the floodwaters subside, Manu keeps following them down. The text ends: “The flood swept away all other creatures, and Manu alone remained here.” The theme of “helpful animals” who requite human kindness (think of Androcles and the lion) teaches two morals: A good deed is rewarded, and be kind to (perhaps do not eat?) animals..."

Noah, a Hollywood film, was released on March 28 2014 in US. There is a lot of debate that is going on whether the real life event influenced the Biblical myth.

Smithsonian.com mentions ten such stories from around the world and the geology that may have influenced them.

One of them is Rama setu

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Wish That's All He Did...George W Bush Paints



Karl Rove, a senior adviser to George W Bush, October 2004:

"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."  


George W. Bush, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's friend, is in the news again.

He has been busy making his own "new realities", this time not with his verbal strokes, like WMD or War-on-terror,  but with his paint-brush.


Artist: George W. Bush

Courtesy: AP


A lot of people, as usual led by Jon Stewart, are having a lot of fun.

Political leaders making art is one of my favourite subjects. It has appeared on this blog twice earlier: once for Mr. Bal Thackeray and once for Mr. Winston Churchill.

My wish:  they only did the art instead of politics. I feel the same for Mr. Bush.

And as is typical of Bush. he has been accused of using Google image search for his inspiration and not his actual meetings with the leaders or the White House photo archive, if one exists.



Artist: Charles E. Martin, The New Yorker, 6 February 1954



Artist: Kipper Williams


courtesy: Spectator, UK, April 2014