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."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Filth, Noise & Stench in our cities

Our cities are dirty. They were dirtier. Some times nostalgia does not let us remember the dirt of the past accurately.

I remember how dirty Miraj and Kolhapur used to get.

Lack of adequate public toilets, insensitivity to personal hygiene and plain laziness has forced Indian people, particularly children, to defecate at the roadside. Monsoon used to wash all that was deposited at the side to bring it to the middle of the road. One could barely walk there. And many areas used to stink.

Until 1970’s, we also had toilets from where night soil was removed and carried manually in handcarts. We used to call those carts “battle tanks” because people used to change their course after sighting them or on hearing their rattle.

Miraj and Kolhapur, the towns I knew well, had plenty of filth and stench but not much noise. Pune the city I live today has perhaps less filth and stench but it more than makes up by creating cacophonic noise. All the days of Ganpati and Diwali festival have ear bursting noise.

How did London fare on FNS?

Michael Crichton describes 19th century London in “The Great Train Robbery”. High on FNS.

For earlier centuries, Emily Cockayne has recently written a book “Hubbub: Filth, Noise & Stench in England”:
“…for the citizens of London, Oxford, Bath and Manchester in the 17th and 18th centuries, life was not merely nasty, brutish and short. It was ugly, itchy, mouldy, noisy, grotty and dirty…….. Viewed in one light, 17th and 18th-century cities were libertarian paradises: economically vibrant, but with a quality of life tending towards the lowest common denominator.”


Artist : Alan Dunn The New Yorker 27 June 1970

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