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."

Sunday, February 07, 2016

स्मरणरंजनाची मराठी गुऱ्हाळं ...The Nostalgia Factories



Nicholas Carr:

"Nostalgia is nothing new. It has been a refrain of art and literature at least since Homer set Odysseus on Calypso's island and had him yearn to turn back time."

Sathnam Sanghera :

“…this relentless nostalgia is unhealthy because it saps our age of character. Think of the Sixties and a host of strong images spring to mind: flower power, the Beatles, civil rights marches. Similarly vibrant images come to mind in relation to the Seventies — flares, unemptied bins, strikes — and the Eighties — braces, Filofaxes, Wham. But is there anything that can pinpoint the flavour of the Nineties and Noughties apart from the popularity of laminate flooring? The past is so massively a part of our present that it’s hard to define what the present is about.”


Which are reportedly most successful Marathi entertainers over the past year or so?

A feature film called  "Katyar Kaljat Ghusali" (कट्यार काळजात घुसली) based on the popular play of the same name, first staged in 1967 and another feature "Natasamrat: Asa Nat Hone Nahi" (नटसम्राट: असा नट होणे नाही) based on another popular play of the same name (नटसम्राट) first staged in 1970. 

Both the films don't reinterpret the almost 50-year old original plays but just re-present them.

I strongly believe  both the movies are towering examples of the zest of middle-class, urban, young and old  Marathi speaking people for nostalgia (स्मरणरंजन).

Loksatta (लोकसत्ता) dated January 24 2016 reported the books that had most demand during the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (अखिल भारतीय मराठी साहित्य संमेलन) held in the same month

Four of the top five books were first published at least forty years ago.
 


 courtesy: the late Vilas Sarang (विलास सारंग), 'Sarjanshodh aani lihita lekhak' (सर्जनशोध आणि लिहिता लेखक), 2007



Artist:  Liana Finck, The New Yorker, November 2015
 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

I Poured Hot Tea...Vasant Sarwate & Maria Qamar

Today February 3 2016 is 89th Birthday of Vasant Sarwate ( वसंत सरवटे)


"How hot have you poured tea? Tongue is burnt..."

(notice the headlines in newspaper)





Artist: Maria Qamar

(Notice the anxiety and tears on pretty face)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

जेणे पावो देखिला...Kawanabe Kyōsai's Elephant

चक्रधर स्वामी:
 "जेणे पावो देखिला। तो म्हणे हत्ती खांबा सारिखा॥ जेणे कानू देखिला। तो म्हणे हत्ती सुपा सारिखा॥ जेणे सोंड देखिली। तो म्हणे हत्ती मुसळा सारिखा॥..."
 


Famous Elephants Imported from India at Play

 Artist: Kawanabe Kyōsai (河鍋 暁斎, May 18, 1831–April 26, 1889)

courtesy: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Innovation We Need in Pune

The Washington Post informed us on February 13 2015 about the "7 odd inventions that we’ve come to love". 

The city of Pune has multiple flyovers being built in different parts. 

And I wonder if we have missed an innovation suggested by a cartoonist almost 90 years ago.


Artist: Alfred Fruch, The New Yorker, 23 January 1926

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

चिमणरावांचे कॉफी करायचे मशीन...Crazy Elaborateness of the Contraption and the Modest Demands of the Task in Hand

Today January 19 2016 is 124th birth anniversary of C V Joshi (चिं वि जोशी): one of the greatest Marathi writers of all time

Sarah O’Connor, FT, January 5 2016:

"...We are so fixated by the threat of human-like machines that we have failed to notice the spread of machine-like humans...It would not be easy or smooth but a fresh wave of automation would at least give us the opportunity to leave the robotic jobs to the robots, and find more fulfilling work for humans to do."

This post is based on my earlier post "चिमणरावांचे स्वैपाघरातील केळी कापायचे मशीन"





"Coffee Break" 

Artist: Christoph Niemann, The New Yorker, November 16 2015

Read Mr. Niemann's thoughts on his creation here. "The whole idea of a machine is outdated.”

But it reminded me of the following picture.


Artist: W. Heath Robinson (1872-1944)


Mr. Robert Butler writes about the drawing:

"...Part of the comedy in a Heath Robinson drawing lies in the gap between the crazy elaborateness of the contraption and the modest demands of the task in hand: extracting juice from a lemon, say, or peeling a potato. There’s a simple pleasure in seeing how cogs, wheels, pulleys, levers, tubes, ropes and bits of string might achieve these ends. In one black-and-white picture in the exhibition (above), a cord comes down from a lampshade to a lightbulb that’s fixed at a right-angle to face a banana that’s stuck on an upright fork that itself is turning on a wheel that is attached to a candlestick holder. The title is “Frittering a Banana by Electricity”.
But another part of the appeal of the drawing comes from the three people in the picture—the matronly wife and young maid, both sitting patiently, and the stout middle-aged man (with his apron on) who is standing up doing the cooking. The figures carry the same air of rapt attention as the figures in “The Orrery”. Lookers-on have a central importance in Heath Robinson's work as they allow him to capture a cosy but solemn, largely male, largely bourgeois world of boaters and top hats, stripey pyjamas and eiderdowns, spectacles and turn-ups, tea-pots and hot-water bottles. So often, the machines these men have devised are tackling thoroughly first-world problems: from a self-operating napkin to an apparatus designed to convey green peas to the mouth, to a device for taking a photograph of yourself (the first selfie). These are men who will go to extreme lengths to make life slightly more comfortable for themselves..."

Men in both the pictures look like Joshi's Chimanrao to me.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Just Footwear or Powerful Cultural Symbols



SHELLEY WALIA, 2011 :
"...Adorno's fear of culture becoming a commodity has finally come true; material objects such as watches and sportswear, Nike shoes, global football and conceptual art have become powerful cultural symbols. Production of symbols in the form of brands across the globe have now become the central concern of capitalism. Things give shape to our imaginary and we carry out our communication through objects..."


Sadie Stein, the Paris Review, October 1 2015:

"...An ideal boot has to be decently made, versatile, affordable, and comfortable. And, of course, it must fit your leg..."


courtesy: A B Seeley, 1881

Artist: William Hamilton, The New Yorker, 9 December 1996

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Open Sesame? Please Confirm the First Line of Your Last Address


"...At last the door opened again and out came the forty thieves. The captain, who had gone in last, now emerged first; after he had watched the others file past him, Ali Baba heard him close the door by pronouncing these words: ‘Shut, Sesame.’ Each thief returned to his horse and remounted, after bridling it and fastening his bag on to it. When the captain finally saw they were all ready to depart, he took the lead and rode off with them along the way they had come.

Ali Baba did not climb down straight away, saying to himself: ‘They may have forgotten something which would make them return, and were that to happen, I would be caught.’ He looked after them until they went out of sight, but he still did not get down for a long time afterwards until he felt completely safe. He had remembered the words used by the captain to make the door open and shut, and he was curious to see if they would produce the same effect for him. Pushing through the shrubs, he spotted the door which was hidden behind them, and going up to it, he said: ‘Open, Sesame.’ Immediately, the door opened wide..."

('The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights: Volume 1' translated by Malcolm C. Lyons)


Artist: Geoff Thompson, The Spectator, 2015

Alas, the life is no more that simple.


Artist: Hunter, The Spectator

Friday, January 08, 2016

प्रगती? छे नव-निर्मिती: Replacing The Word Progress With Innovation


Paul-Louis Courier (1772-1825):

"O terrible influence of this race
which serves neither god nor king,
given over to the mundane sciences,
to base mechanical professions!
Pernicious breed! What will you not attempt,

left to your own devices,
abandoned without restraint
to that fatal  spirit of knowledge, of invention, of progress." 

Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Full House: The Spread of Excellence From Plato to Darwin’, 1996 :

“…Between 1685 (the birth of Bach and Handel) and 1828 (the death of Schubert), the small world of German-speaking people gave us the full life spans of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, to mention just a few. Where are their counterparts today? Who, in the vastly larger domain of the entire world, with musical training available to so many million more people, would you choose among late-twentieth-century composers to rank with these men?

I can’t believe that a musical virus, now extinct, was then loose in the German-speaking world. Nor can we deny that many more people of equal or greater potential talent must now be alive and active somewhere on this planet. What are they doing? Are they writing in styles so arcane that only a rarefied avant-garde of professionals has any access? Are they performing jazz, or (God help us) rock, or some other genre instead? I do suspect that these people exist, but are victims of the right wall and our unforgiving ethic of  innovation …”


Evgeny Morozov:
"...The sewing machine was the smartphone of the nineteenth century. Just skim through the promotional materials of the leading sewing-machine manufacturers of that distant era and you will notice the many similarities with our own lofty, dizzy discourse. The catalog from Willcox & Gibbs, the Apple of its day, in 1864, includes glowing testimonials from a number of reverends thrilled by the civilizing powers of the new machine..."

I bought  much talked about Clayton M. Christensen's ' The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail', 1997 many years ago.

Like majority of my books, I have still NOT finished reading it.

Now,  after reading Jill Lepore's essay from The New Yorker, June 23 2014 ,I don't have to. What a relief!

Lepore has taken apart the book and a lot of management jargon in it and how!

I have always been mildly suspicious of the word 'innovation'. Lepore says all we have done is replaced the word progress with innovation!

"...The idea of progress—the notion that human history is the history of human betterment—dominated the world view of the West between the Enlightenment and the First World War. It had critics from the start, and, in the last century, even people who cherish the idea of progress, and point to improvements like the eradication of contagious diseases and the education of girls, have been hard-pressed to hold on to it while reckoning with two World Wars, the Holocaust and Hiroshima, genocide and global warming. Replacing “progress” with “innovation” skirts the question of whether a novelty is an improvement: the world may not be getting better and better but our devices are getting newer and newer."

Yes, 'the world may not be getting better and better but our devices are getting newer and newer.' 




Artist: Charles Barsotti (1933- June 16 2014),  The New Yorker, 27 January 2003