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, January 06, 2007

Uninfomed opinion

Television has bred our familiarity with strangers.

For instance, Sunil Gavaskar is someone who comes to our drawing room every day of the cricket match. Talking intimately. Gossiping. Therefore, we have an opinion on everything Gavaskar does or has done in the past, not just related to cricket.

Uninformed opinion is perhaps the most important characteristics of our age.

Artist: Everett Opie published The New Yorker Jan 30 1960

p.s After I wrote above, I came across following in FOUAD AJAMI's review of Pervez Musharraf's books "IN THE LINE OF FIRE, A Memoir" (NYT Jan 7 2007).

"We may not know Bahrain but we can be friends with its king; we may not have known Persian ways, nothing, for instance, of the seminarian culture of Qum, but we knew Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, and our travelers and diplomats and journalists felt at home in his court. Jordan may be a realm apart, a place of poverty and a breeding ground of angry warriors of the faith, but young King Abdullah II and his queen, Rania, are fixtures on the international circuit. And now that we have extravaganzas like Davos, no land is truly foreign, the exotic rulers can rub shoulders with Oliver Stone and Angelina Jolie. They can all serve on panels together. Why bother learning Arabic, Farsi or Urdu, when the rulers of distant lands offer a shortcut for the voyeurs and the travelers. "

Therefore, if Opie were to draw this picture from Kennedy's viewpoint, it might read: "It is hard for me to have an opinion about Sheikh or his camel since I haven't met them or been to his land or studied anything about his culture........hey but hold on, I am meeting him at Davos next month and then maybe I will know enough about all this to invade and occupy his land"

We’re killers, but we won’t kill today

Artist: Dana Fradon published : The New Yorker 24 Dec 1960

Dear Mr. Fradon,

It is very likely I have no clue to your cartoon here. However, I am going to try because I like it.
In December '60, your lady character did some crystal ball gazing to proclaim “no war”. I envy her ball’s optimism. Yes, it is very wonderful if anyone or anything foretells no war for next 7 years. But I have some bad news to report from year 2007. ‘1960’ was as bad a decade as any in 20th century- easily the bloodiest century in human history by some distance.

The lady in your picture perhaps shared her findings with our Prime Minister Nehru (who often was a target of the late Shankar of your tribe, India’s most celebrated cartoonist) because he too believed that there would be no wars.

Our nation had lost most of its innocence during ethnic cleansings following 1947's partition and assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. We lost the rest when we fought two horrible conflicts- with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1965 - paving the way for what economist Surjit Bhalla calls "rotten age period (1960 to 1980) of declining growth and increasing poverty". During the time, India as a country went nowhere while our East Asian neighbors marched on to tiger-hoods lifting millions out of poverty.

Elsewhere the world looked down the barrel of nuclear gun with 1961’s Bay of Pigs Invasion and another bloody chapter was written in the history of Middle East with 1967’s Six-Day War (Third Arab-Israeli War). Btw- you know ink in the latter is still very wet. As I write this, one more colourful chapter is being written there.

You may visit Wikipedia to learn the complete list of conflicts at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_1945%E2%80%931989#1960_-_1969

However, I want to end on an optimistic note of Star Trek’s Capt. James T. Kirk

“We’re human beings, with the blood of a million savage years on our hands. But we can stop it. We can admit that we’re killers, but we won’t kill today.”

Sincerely,