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.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

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."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

त्याच्या चित्रांत विश्वाचे हुंकार ऐकू येतात...Je Suis Naji al-Ali

Today, on August 29 1987, Naji al-Ali, one of the greatest political cartoonists was shot dead

Paraphrasing G A Kulkarni (जी ए कुलकर्णी)… 

"...चित्र म्हणजे निव्वळ हातचा वारा; त्यांना रक्त नाही की मांस नाही, पण एखाद्या चित्रकाराचे आत्मसमर्पण मनावर सतत आदळत राहिले तर त्याच्या रक्ताची अमर नक्षत्रे होतात, त्याच्या चित्रांत विश्वाचे हुंकार ऐकू येतात... "

This blog has already paid tributes to Mr. Ali on July 26 2009 here and another brilliant artist Ali Farzat on September 3 2011 here.


courtesy: FB page and Y. Taha

Sunday, August 23, 2015

विशुद्ध आनंददायक असा खेळ...World Cup Philosophy

Today August 23 2015 is 97th Birth Anniversary of  Vinda Karandikar (विंदा करंदीकर).

विंदा करंदीकर: 

"…  पण हे लिखाण करताना माझ्या या दुसऱ्या बालपणात मी एक विशुद्ध आनंददायक  असा खेळ  आहे एवढेच मी समाजत होतो… "
 (माझे मनोगत, अष्टदर्शने, 2003)

This post is largely based on my earlier post dated March 15 2010.

When I finished reading -‘Ashtadarshane’ (अष्टदर्शने), 2003, I wrote a letter to Lalit (ललित) and sent a copy of that to (now) the late Vinda Karandikar.

Lalit published it and Vinda wrote back thanking me for it.




This is what I had said in the letter.

In Marathi, the late M P Rege (मे पु रेगे ) has written a lot on the subject of philosophy using formal prose. It sounds tough even for the writer, let alone reader!

But writing on philosophy, in any other form, is even tougher for the writer.

Particularly, if one wishes to deploy quality humor or poetry. The way Woody Allen does in English.

But for the reader, it's easier.

Unfortunately, in Marathi, I have hardly come across such writings.

I remember one example from P L Deshpande's (पु ल देशपांडे) book.

Pu La imagines that the famous argument between sage Vasishta and sage Vishwamitra- 'Who is Brahmin?' (One: Brahmin knows Brahma, The other: the one who knows Brahma is Brahmin)- took place while both were chewing betel leaf (paans)! Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे) has drawn a beautiful illustration for it.

It reminded me of Mel Brooks' quote:

"Nietzsche whispers to you: ‘Without audacity there is no greatness.’ Freud whispers to you: ‘Why must there be greatness?’ That fight’s still going on. And you don’t understand either one, because they’re both whispering in German."

Frankly, other than Charvak-darshan (चार्वाक), there is little information in Vinda's book that is not there in Will Durant's 'The story of philosophy' (1926). However, Vinda's usage of abhang (अभंग) format to write on the subject of philosophy was at the edge of innovation.

Vinda had good sense of humour as is obvious from many of his poems. Vasant Sarwate too vouches for it.

I hope, some day, his 'Ashtadarshane' ushers in Marathi's Woody Allen.

In the moth of June 2015, I came across an excellent example (one of the best really) of how creatively philosophers and their philosophy can be presented.



 World Cup Philosophy: Germany vs France

Courtesy: Existential Comics

There are four such frames on the website. The above one is the second frame. One of the picture is reproduced below:


"Camus has convinced several of the Germans that the game is fundamentally absurd. And there is no inherent difference between winning and losing. They are just lying on the pitch in despair."

Or see the one below:


 "However, not much action since then, as the Germans seem to be mostly content to kick the ball back and forth endlessly."....and one of the dribblers is Kant!


Every picture is a gem and teaches as well as amuses a lot.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

काय खर्ज लागतो एकेक बेडकाचा...Mandookavani

काकाजी:
"… आपल्या देवासला पावसात हजारो बेडकं ओरडतात मेंडकी-रोडवर, ओहोहोहो! काय खर्ज लागतो एकेक बेडकाचा- असं वाटतं, की  कोणी दशग्रंथी ब्राह्मण वेदपठण करून राहिले आहेत बेटे ! काय ?"
(पु ल देशपांडे, 'तुझें आहें तुजपाशी', 1957)


[Kakaji:

"...in our Devas thousands of frogs croak in the rain on Mendaki road, oh..oh..oh! What deep (bass) sound each one creates- one feels, it's as if  Brahmins with the command of the ten great books are chanting Vedas ! What?"

(P. L. Deshpande, "Tujhe Ahe Tujapashi"]



Mohit M. Rao reported for The Hindu in April 2015:

"...In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, research spanning a decade has resulted in a comprehensive audio database titled ‘Mandookavani’ (translates to ‘speech of the frog’ in Sanskrit) which contains voice samplings of about 70 of these amphibian species.

The 30-minute CD contains a brief introduction to the frog species, followed by a 10 to 30 second voice sample. As an added bonus, the CD also features a one-minute ‘symphony’ using these samples. Researchers Ramya Badrinath, Seshadri K.S., Ramit Singal and Gururaja K.V. independently recorded the samplings during their research in amphibian behaviour and ecology in the Western Ghats.

The lush forests and innumerable streams of the region house 192 frog and toad species – or, around half of the amphibian diversity of the whole country – each of whom have their own distinctive voice. Of the 70 in the CD, 58 are endemic species..."

I have downloaded Frog Find, an Android Apps and I just love listening to various sounds of Mandookavani. 


 courtesy: gubbilabs

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Nothing...I Don't Mean Vagina!




The Epic of Gilgamesh (18th century BC-), Translated by Andrew George, 1999: 

"Ever the river has risen and brought us the flood,
the mayfly floating on the water.
On the face of the sun its countenance gazes,
then all of a sudden nothing is there!" (X 315) 

 
 Anthony Gottlieb:

"...One might think that science will eventually be able to explain the matter (nothing); certainly many cosmologists have said so. But there is an eternal snag, because any answer to the question of why there is something rather than nothing will end up chasing its own tail. Any law of nature or mathematics, any purported set of physical conditions, indeed any fact at all counts as “something”, and is thus itself part of what is supposed to be explained. Every explanation must start somewhere. But there is not, and never could be, anywhere left for this one to start..."


Blaise Pascal, Pensées, The Misery of Man Without God :

“Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity

in which he is engulfed.”
 





courtesy: FB page of Dangerous Minds

Anthony Gottlieb: 

"...Shakespeare, too, made much merry play with the word “nothing”, and not only in “Much Ado”. Whether or not something may come of nothing is a recurring theme in “King Lear”, and there is a particularly convoluted verbal joust between Hamlet and Ophelia—some of which escapes contemporary readers unaware that in Elizabethan slang “nothing” can mean “vagina”..."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Who Do Librarians Kiss?

Today August 12 2015 is  123rd Birth Anniversary of Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, a mathematician and librarian, also considered the father of library science in India. 

To honour him, the day is observed as  National Library Day in India. 



courtesy: FB page of Vintage Books & Anchor Books

Sunday, August 09, 2015

ढेकणासी बाज...How Bedbugs Bed


सदानंद रेगे:
 "म्हटलं
आज गादीला जरा
ऊन खाऊ दे.
गच्चीवर टाकली न टाकली तो
पसाभर ढेकूण
जीव घेऊन
सैरावैरा ढुंगणाला पाय
लावून धूम पळत सुटलेले.
तरी तीनचार पायाखाली आलेच.
त्यांच्या कुळथीच्या रंगाचे
रक्ताळ धूमकेतू
जमिनीवर गोंदणासारखे
उतरत्या सूर्याला साक्षी
ठेवून मी स्वत:शीच पुटपुटलो,
देवा, त्यांच्या आत्म्यांना शांती दे
त्यातला चुकून एखादा असायचा फ्रान्झ काफ्का!"

 
William Cook: "Bedbugs were biting humans long before humans invented beds..."   

Tukaram 1608-1649 (तुकाराम),  quoted at the very top of this blog, sure knew this truth when he said:  "ढेकणासी बाज गड, उतरचढ केवढी" (For a bedbug a bed is like a castle. so much climbing up and down!).


After reading this first time in Dilip Chitre's (दिलीप चित्रे) 'Punha Tukaram' (पुन्हा तुकाराम), 1990, I smiled and  imagined how Tukaram must have observed a bug climbing a leg of a bed in his own house. Those couple of minutes gave birth to, for me, one of the most moving Marathi couplets.

Western literature too is full of them: "...from Horace to Henry Miller. They crop up in the Talmud, in Aristotle and Aristophanes..." (Cook)

Recently I came across Brooke Borel's book 'Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World', 2015 and its review by Marlene Zuk in The New York Times, April 17 2015.

We associate a bed with bedbugs and sex. So what about sex of  bedbugs?

"...When bedbugs mate, the male stabs the female’s body with his penis and deposits his sperm inside, a process “more like a shanking than a romantic coupling.” It’s part of what enables the bugs to reproduce so effectively, and become — welcome or not — one of our most common urban companions." (Zuk)

"...After they’ve feasted on your blood, they like to engage in rough and tumble sex (not with you, fortunately)..." (Cook)

Tukaram did not know this. Had he known, I wonder what he would have composed!



Traumatic insemination

Credit: Richard Naylor, CimexStore.co.uk

Thursday, August 06, 2015

शनिवारवाड्यात गोया!...If Francisco Goya Were Present in Shaniwar Wada on August 6 1790

Today August 6 2015 * is 225 th Anniversary of a tripartite treaty between the British, the Maratha's and the Nizam for joining forces against Tipu Sultan,  the day one may argue changed the destiny of India.


John Berger, 'Selected Essays', 2001:

"...There are artists such as Leonardo or even Delacroix who are more analytically interesting than Goya. Rembrandt was more profoundly compassionate in his understanding. But no artist has ever achieved greater honesty than Goya: honesty in the full sense of the word meaning facing the facts and preserving one’s ideals. With the most patient craft Goya could etch the appearance of the dead and the tortured, but underneath the print he scrawled impatiently, desperately, angrily, ‘Why?’ ‘Bitter to be present’, ‘This is why you have been born’, ‘What more can be done?’ ‘This is worse’. The inestimable importance of Goya for us now is that his honesty compelled him to face and to judge the issues that still face us."

E. H. Gombrich on Goya:

"...His portraits, in fact, which secured him a position at the Spanish court look superficially like State portraits in the vein of Vandyke or of Reynolds. But only superficially, for as soon as we scrutinize the faces of these grandees we feel that Goya seems to mock at their pretentious elegance. He looked at these men and women with a pitiless and searching eye, and revealed all their vanity and ugliness, their greed and emptiness. No Court Painter before or after has ever left such a record of his patrons..." (The Story of Art, 1950)

There already are two posts on this blog discussing the picture, reproduced immediately below, that captures the treaty above:

'Perhaps Beautiful but Surely A Fraud: Thomas Daniell’sPainting of Peshwa Court' dated September 23 2007 and 'If Marathas and Tipu-sultan Came Together... एक दरबारचित्र आणि दोन मोठ्या चुका नवीन पुस्तकातील' dated April 28 2013.

The key word describing the painting below is 'fraud' as against the brutal honesty of most of Goya's (1746- 1828) work!


Artist: Thomas Daniell

at the centre of the pictures are Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa, Nana Fadnavis to his right and in hat
Sir Charles Warre Malet Bt


Picture courtesy: Wikimedia Commons and Tate Gallery

The British defeated Tipu in May 1799, Maratha's in September 1803 and went on to become the rulers of India for almost 150 years. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington played a major role in both the campaigns.

In February 2015, I came across the following portrait of Mr. Wellesley in The Guardian 'Art weekly' newsletter.


Artist: Francisco Goya (1746-1828) drawn 1812-1814 

                                                             photo courtesy: Corbis

Mr. Jonathan Jones writes of the picture: "The great British general is pensive, even anxious, in Goya’s subtle portrait. Wellington made his name fighting in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. While there, he was caught uneasily on canvas by Goya’s insightful eye"

In plain English,  Mr. Wellington looks scared!

Only a master of Goya's caliber could have captured it. I had never seen a portrait of this nature that says so much because majority of such paintings are hagiographic. 

If  tripartite treaty between the British, the Maratha's and the Nizam for joining forces against Tipu Sultan had not taken place, we need not IMAGINE how the Duke would have looked, if he was fighting against the combined forces of the British enemies in India.

Goya has shown it to us above!

I wish Goya were present in Shaniwar Wada on August 6 1790*! His depiction of the ceremony showing the Peshwa, Nana and Charles Malet would have perhaps told us a different story.

* The  date may be different than this one. D G Godse's (द ग गोडसे) Marathi book 'Samande Talash' (समन्दे तलाश), 1981 claims it to be June 6 1790