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, March 29, 2007

vulgar and prurient and dumb interests

David Foster Wallace : "TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests."

Michael CrichtonAirframe” (1996)

“…..A lot of people complain that television lacks focus. But that's the nature of the medium. Television's not about information at all. Information is active, engaging. Television is passive. Information is disinterested, objective. Television is emotional. It's entertainment. Whatever he says, however he acts, in truth Martin has absolutely no interest in you, or your company, or your airplanes. He's paid to exercise his one reliable talent: provoking people, getting them to make an emotional outburst, to lose their temper, to say something outrageous. He doesn't really want to know about airplanes. He wants a media moment. If you understand that, you can deal with him.”

Viewer is disgusted that tonight he will not perhaps get his media moment!

Artist : Richard Decker The New Yorker 27 oct 1956

Please don't start another triology!

My son is Harry Potter nut. He used to spend a lot of time on HP before we put some restrictions.

I have mixed feelings on the subject of HP. HP is a clever mix of what children seek in their real life and fantasies. It is good but it gets more mind share of children than it deserves. It also is highly addictive. Like Pokemon or tomato ketchup.

Indian media too plays a big role in promoting HP. My son recently attended a quiz organized by Times of India. To our horror, it was dominated by questions on HP. Children were asked questions on personal life of author J. K. Rowling and they knew the answers! I am not sure we want our son to attend such a quiz again.

Therefore, I am also tempted to howl to J. K. Rowling : “Think of the children. Please don’t start another trilogy”
Artist : Richard Decker The New Yorker 10 Sept 1955

Isn’t there enough trouble in the world already?

I love science. But my favourite rant is importance of soft skills more than science.

Gandhiji, Vinoba Bhave विनोबा भावे and Sane Guruji साने गुरुजी wanted us to focus on soft skills to build tolerant and healthy society. Society free of corruption and communal hatred. Society that is compassionate. Society free of dogma and superstition. Society that respects manual and intellectual works equally. (on the last point, read Vinoba Bhave’s brilliant Marathi essay on Sage Agastya who gave equal importance to both brain and brawn)

Shiv Vishwanathan “… Science today is a creature of market or state. It is seen as the IT of Azim Premji and Chandrababu Naidu without asking how cyberspace and justice can unite. But there is no sense of fun, no invitation to ask why the sky is blue, or why a top spins or why a boomerang moves the way it does. We need to go back to our inventive history and bring science back into the celebration called culture, to create a science as inventive as our music or dance, a science that celebrates 40,000 varieties of rice and ensures they do not become a monoculture of five to 10 species.”

I think as a nation we worry only about technical areas of education. Is it good for us in the long run?

Therefore, I am tempted to ask my 13 year old son…………
Artist: Rea Gardner The New Yorker 10 Nov 1945

It's just stuff. Not Abdul.

In movie “American Beauty” (1999), protagonist Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, tells his wife:
“This isn't life, it's just stuff. And it's become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that's just nuts.”

Many times we forget this. We think the stuff defines us. We think the elephants we ride define us.

No wonder others don’t recognize us without them!
Artist: Richard Decker The New Yorker 17 Nov 1945