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."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It’s because we no longer have literature

In my childhood, before the age of TV, feud was the second most effective crowd puller. First of course was a death in the neighbourhood. Third was a road accident and so on.

Literary feuds can get very exicitng if participants are sufficiently bitchy. In Marathi world, there have been many such feuds.

For instnace- Khandekar Vs. Phadke “Is art only for the sake of art?”. P K Atre Vs. many. B S Mardhekar Vs. G D Madgulkar, P L Deshpande (with a sideshow Govind Talwalkar) Vs. Durga Bhagwat दुर्गा भागवत, Jaywant Dalvi Vs. many and so on.

My father’s first book – “Dhoka, Hamrasta Pudhe Ahe” was savaged by many as obscene but literary critic D K Bedekar defended it, creating quite a spectacle for onlookers. (btw- My father got so scared by fracas, he has never wrtten another controversial book since.)

These days there is almost a drought of feuds in Marathi literary world. In Marathi literary magazine Lalit, some abortive attempts are made from time to time to start one. Alas, those attempts are just that- abortive.

RACHEL DONADIO has written an essay “Art of the Feud” for NYT Nov 19 2006:

‘To some, the paucity of feuds is connected to the larger state of literary culture. “It’s not because we no longer have feuds,” said Fran Lebowitz, the writer. “It’s because we no longer have literature.” ’

Artist : Bruce Eric Kaplan Publication: The New Yorker 27 Jun 1994