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!"

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."

Chris Ware: "Being a cartoonist means you don’t consider yourself too fancy."

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chopin could not compose unless he was coughing blood.

In picture below a mother is consoling her tearful daughter after viewing "The Song of Bernadette" (based on a novel by Franz Werfel and winner of four Oscars in the 1943) that Bernadette would not have suffered as much as she did (tuberculosis of the bone) if penicillin was available in 1858.

So is tuberculosis-causing bacteria all evil?

Chris Lowry, of Bristol University, and his colleagues think a particular sort of bacterium might alleviate clinical depression. The Economist (April 7,2007) reports: “Dr Mary O'Brien was trying out an experimental treatment for lung cancer that involved inoculating patients with Mycobacterium vaccae. This is a harmless relative of the bugs that cause tuberculosis and leprosy that had, in this case, been rendered even more harmless by killing it. When Dr O'Brien gave the inoculation, she observed not only fewer symptoms of the cancer, but also an improvement in her patients' emotional health, vitality and general cognitive function.”

In response to this, Dr Dermot Kennedy has written a letter to the magazine (May 12, 2007): “Your article on the unexpected improvement to patients' emotional health after they were injected with a bacterium recalls a similar effect that has been long identified in people suffering from tuberculosis. Known as Spes phthisica, or the euphoria of the tuberculous consumptive, this partly explains the disease's impact on a long list of aesthetes, including George Orwell, D.H. Lawrence, Franz Kafka, and Amedeo Modigliani. Frédéric Chopin complained that he could not compose unless he was coughing blood. John Keats, “With anguish moist and fever dew”, poured out his ineffable poetry as the disease accelerated. An interesting aside to this is the aphrodisiac effect of tuberculosis, so familiar to staff working in sanatoriums. As a nursing sister in my hospital once said, “You need a blowtorch to separate them.”

In India too history of creative arts is full of interesting characters suffering from tuberculosis. Do they all owe part of their greatness to the bugs? And who would have thought you could do with small amount of free bacteria instead of expensive Viagra?
Artist : Alan Dunn The New Yorker 4 March 1944