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."

Friday, September 07, 2007

Attending Nature's Call Before Going on Rampage

Vasant Sarwate वसंत सरवटे has drawn some penetrating pictures of crowds of Mumbai. Here is one of my favourite- Marching through public urinal.

Crowds define India. Even Babar noticed them.

But as C P SURENDRAN says in Times of India September 5 2007 "Mobs on the rampage", crowds have started degenerating into mobs with the slightest of provocation.

“…If justice and punishment are a matter for a throng of people to dispense with, why have courts of law?

Other instances abound of mob assuming for itself a kind of vigilantism that is hard to distinguish from full-fledged riot. Just about anything could spark it. A desecrated statue, a professor who passed a lewd remark on a student, a movie with lesbian innuendoes, a scholar who said the king was naked, a novelist who laughed at a god - just about anything, including two displaced leopards, trapped and beaten to death in Nashik by the mob recently. Anything is reason for the crowd to morph itself into the killer mode of the mob. Any object, painting, truck, or wildcat could be the wand that waved a mob out of men merely staring into the middle distance and sipping tea.

The sad fact is that the mob is so much a part of the so-called Emerging India. It is people who have lost trust in the due process of law, whose sense of retribution brooks no delay in gratification. Mob is a people in a hurry to avenge. And there are so many of them. Add to it poor policing. Every thousand Indians need to make do with just one policeman. Compare that with the UN recommendation of one policeman to 400 people.

An equally contributory cause is the high level of frustration that a vengefully consumerist society - India, for instance, is one of the fastest growing car markets in the world - will transmit to the voyeuristic have-nots. The increasing incidence of mob fury is more a warning than an indication that there are a lot of unhappy people looking for an excuse to get angry as hell.

As pockets of plutocrats increase, we are likely to see more and more of the mob, representing the Indians left out from the movement forward, taking to the road and travelling backward to the stone age of intolerance and violence, a twilight land where a botched attempt at snatching a chain could be seen as an act of arch villainy and mindless violence as its inexplicable but just comeuppance…….”

Dr. Shreeram Lagoo डाँ. श्रीराम लागू (who makes first appearance on this blog earlier) once said how disturbed he felt when mobs attacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) at Pune in January 2004. It reminded him of arson in many parts of Maharashtra, targeting Brahmins, after assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.

Writer Pratibha Ranade (famous for her first-hand account of Afghanistan and books on life and work of Rani Laxmibai & Durga Bhagwat) has given a chilling account of that period, describing what happened to her middle-class Brahmin family in Kolhapur when their cosy neighbourhood morphed into a mob.


Artist: Vasant Sarwate वसंत सरवटे 1973 (source- “Savadhan! Pudhe Valan Ahe!” Mauj Prakashan 1990)