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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Free Tagore and Sane-guruji

Indian copyright laws were changed to enable Santiniketan to hold on to the rights of the literary works of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore longer- from 50 to 60 years after his death. Indian copyright law now deems that literary works of authors would come to thepublic domain 60 years after their death.

This change was outrageous and Tagore himself would have cried foul.

"Jawaharlal Nehru's literary works, turned over toprivate publishers last year (1994), have emerged bestsellers. And the books,re-born with a more stylish and contemporary look, are bringing rich returnsfor their two main royalty owners - his great grandchildren Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. The copyrights of Nehru's writings, published for decades by OxfordUniversity Press and the National Book Trust and funded by Jawaharlal NehruMemorial Fund and Children's Book Trust, were handed over last year to Penguin India Ltd. So the Gandhi siblings will continue to get 10-15 percent royalty on the sales of these books till 2024. "

The Economist (Apr 15th 2004 ) : "Copyright was originally designed to restrict publishers from exerting too much control over information; today it constrains individuals from creating new works".

Lessig says: ".....we come from a tradition of “free culture”—not “free” as in “free beer” (to borrow a phrase from the founder of the freesoftware movement2), but “free” as in “free speech,” “free markets,” “free trade,” “free enterprise,” “free will,” and “free elections.” A free culture supports and protects creators and innovators. It does this directly by granting intellectual property rights. But it does so indirectly by limiting the reach of those rights, to guarantee that follow-on creators and innovators remain as free as possible from the control of the past. A free culture is not a culture without property, just as a free market is not a market in which everything is free. The opposite of a free culture is a “permission culture”—a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past."

In his famous book "Free Culture" he says: ".......the free culture that I defend in this book is a balance between anarchy and control. A free culture, like a free market, is filled with property. It is filled with rules of property and contract that get enforced by the state. But just as a free market is perverted if its property becomes feudal, so too can a free culture be queered by extremism in the property rights that define it. That is what I fear about our culture
today. It is against that extremism that this book is written."

Therefore, let Bible be Bible first and then S&S publication!

Artist : Alan Dunn Publication: The New Yorker 31 Oct1936

All my genius is in my nostrils

Artist : George Price Publication: The New Yorker 7 Nov 1936

Friedrich Nietzsche: "All my genius is in my nostrils."

Mine too! Not for its Aryan straightness -far from it, it is quite Dravidian- but for its core function-SMELLING. For me, olfactory clues are more reliable than visual ones. When I walk into a gathering or a crowd, I am concerned about the smell. If it smells well, I settle down.

Lara Feigel has written a brilliant essay “Turning up our noses” for Pospect Magazine December 2006.

She says: “Humankind, even in its most primitive form, had a brain very similar to ours now, yet we have a much weaker sense of smell than our cave-dwelling ancestors. Indeed, congenital anosmia is on the increase, so the whole human race may be heading for an anosmic future. Characteristically, Freud suggests that ancient psychosexual anxieties are behind this decline in our nasal capabilities. For him, it all began when man raised himself from the ground to walk on two feet, flashing his genitals to all and sundry. The shame of this sudden exposure, the theory goes, triggered a species-wide repression of the sense of smell. Humans found genitals less embarrassing when they were seen but not smelt. This meant that men were no longer able to smell menstruation or ovulation. Smell became less important in creating sexual excitement, and humans began to be turned on more by the look of each other's bodies than the odour. As evidence for this view of smell as a forbidden, repressed sensation, Freud cites the fact that his hysterical patients often had extremely sensitive noses…

The 17th-century poet Robert Herrick found Julia's sweat as much of a turn-on as Napoleon did Josephine's 200 years later. (He famously sent word from the thick of battle that she should abstain from washing now that his return was nigh.) ”


I don’t want to be part of such an anosmic future when I have to say : “I can’t smell a thing”. I would rather be Freud’s hysterical patient!

Anti incumbency

We Indians are very proud of our democracy. Even author Pankaj Mishra who otherwise is so scathing about the country finds elections a somewhat redeeming feature.

"For decades now, India's underprivileged have used elections to register their protests against joblessness, inequality and corruption. In the 2004 general elections, they voted out a central government that claimed that India was "shining," bewildering not only most foreign journalists but also those in India who had predicted an easy victory for the ruling coalition."

For first few decades of our republic's existence, Congress party ran away with all the electoral success.

Not any more. Now the party in government, except places like West Bengal, gets trounced because our voter behaves like...



Artist : Helen E Hokinson Publication: The New Yorker 31 Oct 1936

Oh, hell



In Marathi literature, poet the late B S Mardhekar बा. सी. मर्ढेकर is next to only the giants - saint-poets - Dnyaneshwar, Eknath, Tukaram and Ramdas. He was deeply entrenched in native traditions and also influenced by Western poetry of T S Eliot, W H Auden among few others.

Literary critic Shri M V Dhond म वा धोंड has written perceptively on Mardhekar’s poetry. Dhond has discovered meanings there, which may pleasantly surprise even Mardhekar!

But the poem above is straightforward and meant as a caption for Peter Arno's picture from The New Yorker of 25 July 1936.

The Guide

I thought R K Narayan's book "The Guide" is sublime. Raju the guide is a very ordinary person but his story shows us how extra-ordinary one's life can become. Indeed it is one. One has to just discover it.

Raju towards the end is forced to fast to bring rains. Food is on his mind all the time. But then..."If by avoiding food I should help the trees bloom, and the grass grow, why not do it thoroughly? For the first time in his life he was making an earnest effort, for the first time he was learning the thrill of full application, outside money and love; for the first time he was doing something in which he was not personally interested. He felt suddenly so enthusiastic that it gave him a new strength to go through the ordeal....."

And then it rains.................Next, can Raju prevent wars? Sure, if we learn to breath properly!

Artist: Helen E Hokinson Publication : The New Yorker 25 Jul 1936