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."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Is there a Mrs. R D Karve?

Raghunath Dhondo Karve (1882-1953) remains one of the most fascinating characters of 20th century India.

On July 1, 2007, Doordarshan showed a film “Dhyas Parva” made on his life. It’s an OK film. But I rather prefer books. I recommend two of them- M V Dhond’s म वा धोंड
Jalyatil Chandra” (Rajhans Prakashan 1994) and Y D Phadke’s Ra Dho Karve” (Ha Vi Mote Prakashan 1981).

Dhond’s book consists of collection of his literary essays. Three of them are focused on RDK. Third of them is the best-“Ra Dho Karve Ani Santati Niyaman” (R D Karve and family planning).

In the said essay, Dhond analyses why RDK was not as successful in his mission as Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes, his counterparts in US and UK respectively.

Dhond says RDK’s mission, unlike that of the ladies, was not just happy family life, emancipation of women, control of population etc but more. RDK wanted women to have as much sexual freedom as men did. He wanted them to have as much sensual pleasure as men did.

Sample few of RDK’s thoughts: - 1) so long childbirth and venereal diseases are prevented debauchery of women does not really harm men and the benefit is those women who need variety get it. 2) Why cannot women have right to prostitution?

Dhond claims contemporary society’s objectives were restricted to those of Sanger and Stopes and hence not only RDK’s mission has a whole suffered, he himself was persecuted by society at large. There were other reasons too - RDK’s unattractive personality, poor finances and lack of networking skills.

It’s unfortunate RDK was not alive when three major events that make us understand woman sexuality better happened- 1. The Kinsey report of 1953 2. Masters and Johnson’s book of 1966 and 3.The Hite report of 1976. The late Stephen Jay Gould has discussed them in some detail in his essay “Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples” (“Adam’s Navel” Penguin 1995).

These reports conclusively proved to men that primary site of for stimulation to orgasm centres upon the clitoris and not vagina. Not to have orgasm from intercourse is the experience of the majority of women A woman’s sexual pleasure might not arise most reliably as a direct result of man’s own coital efforts. 79% of women who masturbate do so by directly stimulating the clitoris and surrounding vulva, while only 1.5% use vaginal entry. The techniques of masturbation and of petting are more specifically calculated to effect orgasm than the techniques of coitus itself.

RDK would have been particularly pleased because these reports busted Freud’s edict that women must make the transition from clitoral to vaginal orgasm to escape the tag of frigidity. (by the way RDK also hated Freud’s child -psychoanalysis.). Therefore, if women were as much entitled to sensual pleasure as men they need not choose vaginal orgasm and hence men.

RDK would also have been happy with the oral contraception’s (birth control pill’s) contribution to women's reproductive rights and health,

I am not sure if our society is ready even today to discuss RDK’s mission in its entirety.

Was there a Mrs. RDK? Sure there was. Malati was whole-heartedly with Raghunath on this treacherous journey. She actively participated in whatever he undertook. She willingly supported his decision not to have any children. She also helped him in making contraceptives and applying them on to their women clients. By all known accounts they were a happy couple.


Artist: Peter Arno The New Yorker 1 May 1948