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.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

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."

Thursday, January 18, 2018

अलेक्झांडर हर्झन....Alexander Herzen

आजपासून तीन दिवसानंतर,  जानेवारी २१ २०१८ रोजी  अलेक्झांडर हर्झन यांची १४८वी पुण्यतिथी आहे.

John N. Gray:
"...He remains an intensely relevant thinker – one of very few who have grasped the true import of evolutionary theory, which is to subvert any belief in teleology in the natural world or (since human beings belong in that world) in history. Neither the cosmos nor the human species is going anywhere in particular. This may seem a dispiriting view, but for a few – including Isaiah Berlin, who more than anyone else kept Herzen’s thought alive in the 20th century – it has been liberating. If history has no script, human beings are free to improvise and explore many different paths of development.
But this is not how the idea of evolution has been understood or used. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was appropriated to prop up grand political projects – whether laissez-faire capitalism or Soviet-style communism – of the kind Herzen despised. Today it is used by popular writers such as Richard Dawkins to bolster the faith that ‘humanity’ – ‘a sort of piebald demi-god’, in Herzen’s words – can transcend the workings of chance and shape its own future. The lesson Herzen spent much of his life teaching has not been learned..."
अशोक शहाणे, नपेक्षा, २००५:
 "... कीकेंगार्डच्याच काळात लोकहितवादीनी लिखाण केले आहे, कीकेंगार्डपासून युरोपमध्ये विचारांच्या क्षेत्रात एक नवीनच वृत्ती आली. कीकेंगार्डने तर्कबुद्धीला प्रचंड धक्का देणारे लिखाण हेतुपुरःसरच केले आणि आमच्या लोकहितवादीनी मात्र सबंध विचाराचा पाया केवळ बुद्धीनेच घातला जावा अशी धडपड केली. कीकेंगार्डच्याच काळात लोकहितवादीनी लिहिले ही निदान आता तरी क्रूर थट्टाच वाटते." (पृष्ठ: १५, १६)

असच काहीस नीत्शे आणि आगरकरांबद्दल शहाणे म्हणतात. 

शहाणे असही  म्हणतात: 
"....टिळक-आगरकर ह्या जोडीत टिळकांची दुर्दशा आगरकरांपेक्षा शतपटींनी जास्त आहे. हा गृहस्थ अत्यंत व्यवहारी - एखाद्या किराणाभुसाराच्या दुकानदारासारखा. शिवाय हे गीतेवर भाष्य लिहू धजले आणि मिल आणि स्पेन्सर ह्यांचा त्यांनी विचारसादृश्य असणारे म्हणून तळटिपांतून उल्लेख केला. ही त्या काळच्या बुद्धीच्या दारिद्र्याची ठळक निशाणी म्हणून सांगता येईल.मिल आणि स्पेन्सर ह्यांची पुस्तके 'क्रमिक' स्वरुपाची आहेत, ही गोष्ट ध्यानात घेतली म्हणजे त्या काळच्या महाराष्ट्रातल्या वैचारिक नेतृत्वाची कल्पना येईल..."

ह्यातले सगळेच सगळ्यांना पटेल असे नाही. उदा: माझी बाजू मी  इथे मांडली होती.
Commenting on the list of current thinkers / intellectuals published by Foreign Policy magazine in 2011 and comparing it to an imaginary list prepared in 1861, Gideon Rachman says:

"...It is an impressive group of people (from 2011). But now compare it with a similar list that could have been compiled 150 years ago. The 1861 rankings could have started with Charles Darwin and John Stuart Mill – On the Origin of Species and On Liberty were both published in 1859. Then you could include Karl Marx and Charles Dickens. And that was just the people living in and around London. In Russia, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were both at work, although neither had yet published their greatest novels. Even if, like Foreign Policy, you have a preference for politicians, the contrast between the giants of yesteryear and the relative pygmies of today is alarming..."
(Financial Times, January 24 2011)

एफ.टी च्या यादीत मिल आहेत, नीत्शे नाहीत, कीकेंगार्ड नाहीत. 

पण एक नाव इथ कुठच न आल्याचा खेद वाटतो: अलेक्झांडर हर्झन १८१२-१८७० (Alexander Herzen). 

त्याचे एक महत्वाचे कारण असे असावे की त्यांच्या उतार वयात हर्झनयांची लोकप्रियता खूप कमी, जवळजवळ नष्ट, झाली होती. त्यांचे लेखन सुद्धा भारतात उपलब्ध होते की नाही कुणास ठाऊक. पण मला वाटते की वरील दोन्ही अडचणी जरी नसत्या तरी ते भारतातील तत्कालीन विचारवंतांत लोकप्रिय झाले नसते कारण अजून सुद्धा मराठी लेखनात त्यांचा उल्लेख मी वाचलेला नाही. 

टॉम स्टॊपार्ड (Tom Stoppard) यांच्या नाटकातील कार्ल मार्क्स आणि हर्झन यांच्यातील काल्पनिक संवाद वाचा:

"... MARX:  The Sandwich Islands? Like Russia, and for the same reason, the Sandwich Islands are irrelevant. Considered as a social class acting out its destiny in a struggle with the class above, the proletariat of the Sandwich Islands is not as yet significant. I couldn’t recommend it, you’d miss all the fun. None of us may live long enough, but when it comes, the cataclysm will be glorious … Every stage leads to a higher stage in the permanent conflict which is the march of history. Industrialisation, ever expanding to feed the markets for canoes, cooking pots, samovars … and ever contracting to drive out competition … alienates the worker more and more from the product of his toil, until Capital and Labour stand revealed in fatal contradiction. Then will come the final titanic struggle, the last turn of the great wheel of progress beneath which generations of toiling masses perished for the ultimate victory. Now at last the unity and rationality of history’s purpose will be clear to everyone—even—finally—to the last Islander and to the last muzhik. Everything that seemed vicious, mean and ugly, the broken lives and ignoble deaths of millions, will be understood as part of a higher reality, a superior morality, against which resistance is irrational—a cosmos where every atom has been striving for the goal of human self-realisation and the culmination of history. I see the Neva lit by flames and running red, the coconut palms hung with corpses all along the shining strand from Kronstadt to the Nevsky Prospekt

HERZEN (to Marx)     But history has no culmination! There is always as much in front as behind. There is no libretto. History knocks at a thousand gates at every moment, and the gatekeeper is chance. We shout into the mist for this one or that one to be opened for us, but through every gate there are a thousand more. We need wit and courage to make our way while our way is making us. But that is our dignity as human beings, and we rob ourselves if we pardon us by the absolution of historical necessity. What kind of beast is it, this Ginger Cat with its insatiable appetite for human sacrifice? This Moloch who promises that everything will be beautiful after we’re dead? A distant end is not an end but a trap. The end we work for must be closer, the labourer’s wage, the pleasure in the work done, the summer lightning of personal happiness …"

आधुनिक मराठी विचारात हर्झनयांचा विचार दुसऱ्याचा म्हणून सुद्धा प्रकट केला जात नाही. History has no culmination अशा विचारांना सध्याच्या महाराष्ट्रात थारा नाही. इथे फक्त मानवी प्रगतीचे गीत गायले जाते,

Painting by A. A. Zbruev

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Special Prayer for the Supreme Court.....

“Four of India's most senior Supreme Court judges have warned that democracy is under threat because of the way the court is being run.

In the first ever news conference by sitting judges at India's top court, they said Chief Justice Dipak Misra was ignoring rules and assigning cases according to his own preferences.

Chief Justice Misra has not responded.

The event has prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold an emergency meeting with his law minister....”

“Judges have been making news for centuries, for good, bad, right and wrong reasons. They wield enormous power because they decide what is ok and what is not in what governments do. In that sense they are the real bosses of any country...
.... The Indian Supreme Court became “lions under the throne” when Jawaharlal Nehru brought in the fourth amendment in 1955 to show the judiciary its place as far as ruling on property rights is concerned. (Just imagine what would happen if the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP tried anything like it). 
In 1971, the Supreme Court re-asserted itself. It told Indira Gandhi to be a good girl and not be a nuisance to Indian democracy. She not only refused but also struck back by appointing loyalist judges.
There was even talk of a “committed judiciary”. Again imagine what would happen if the BJP tried anything like it...”

मागील आठवड्यातील घटनांवरून आठवलेले, पूर्वी ह्या ब्लॉगवर आलेले, एक व्यंगचित्र...

Artist: Alan Dunn (1900–1974), The New Yorker, July 21 1962