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."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Why Aren’t There UFO’s Over Urban India?

I was shocked and saddened to read in Times of India September 9, 2007: “Today's hot fad: Rewind to your previous lives

“Scared of flying? Maybe you died in an aircrash 300 years ago. Can’t perform in bed? You might have suffered abuse in a previous birth. In a country where the concept of reincarnation is as old as life itself, it isn’t surprising that past life regression therapy (PLRT) has become the hottest treatment for upwardly mobile Indians demanding answers to all their life’s problems…”

On reading Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World”, brilliant egotist Richard Dawkins exclaimed:”I wish I had written the book”.

Yes, I wish Dawkins wrote his books more like Sagan.

I acquired the book in 2003, six years after its publication. I have since then read it almost every week. No one writes better prose in English than Sagan. He is George Orwell of science writing.

Sagan says: “The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudo-science and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. “

But he is not just skeptical.

“Both skepticism and wonder are skills that need honing and practice. Their harmonious marriage within the mind of every schoolchild ought to be a principal goal of public education."

This book should be a text in our schools from grade five onwards. Newspapers should serialize the book and once finished, they should start all over again!

I wonder why those millions of upwardly mobile Indians who are taken in by pseudo-science (rebirth, astrology, godmen etc. etc.) and superstition don’t sight UFO’s. If world’s ‘greatest democracy’ has hundreds of UFO sightings every year, why shouldn’t world’s ‘largest democracy’ have matching numbers?

Is it because of dense air pollution in urban India?

Artist: James Thurber The New Yorker 11 Sept 1948

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