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."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Now Fallen Sperm Count May Trigger Next Mahabharat

Times of India reported on October 8, 2007:”A new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield suggests that people having an elder brother are more likely to have reduced fertility, as compared to individuals having an elder sister."

My reaction. Oh no, another reason for brothers to fight.

Hindus keep making noises about Bhagavad-Gita and Ramayana but the book they follow most is Mahabharat. (Or is that the book follows them?)

If one wants to understand India, she must understand Mahabharat.

Excellent commentaries on Mahabharat are available in Marathi – Vyasaparva by Durga Bhagwat दुर्गा भागवत and Yuganta (also available in English) by Iravati Karve.

Columnist and writer Gurcharan Das of late has often resorted to the epic to press home his point. He recommends editions of University Of Chicago Press and Clay Sanskrit Library from Oxford University .

Mahabharat at its heart is a story of feuding brothers and cousins. In Marathi, there is a word for this conflict-‘Bhaubandki’. I feel Indian Y chromosome is not programmed to coexist with its kind!

For example, just see what is happening in business empires of Ambani’s; Bajaj’s, soap operas, movies, dominant political families etc. Indian history (of both Hindus and Muslims) is replete with many examples.(I was shocked to read in John Keay’s “India” that the great Harsha-Vardhana had had a hand in his brother Rajya-Vardhana’s ‘imminent removal’.)

I don’t see this ‘feuding brothers’ a dominant theme in Western Civilization.

On October 4, 2007, world celebrated launch of Sputnik 50 years ago. A hurting Indian brother may not mind sending his sibling along!


Artist: Charles Addams The New Yorker Jan 6, 1951

Francis Ford Coppola Discovers Yayati

The greatest English film I ever watched and keep watching is “Coppola's The Godfather” (1972). It’s like reading Mahabharat.

A O Scott, dependable film critic of NYT reports on September 9, 2007: “YOUTH Without Youth,” Francis Ford Coppola’s first film in 10 years, is about Dominic Matei, an elderly Romanian professor of linguistics who, after being struck by lightning, becomes young again. Though Matei, played by Tim Roth, retains a septuagenarian’s memories and experiences, his body, restored to 30-year-old fighting trim, is mysteriously immune to the effects of time…

Mr. Coppola’s movie is a complex, symbol-laden meditation on the nature of chronology, language and human identity — but it also speaks to a familiar and widespread longing. What if, without losing the hard-won wisdom of age, you could go back and start again? What if you could reverse and arrest the process of growing old, securing the double blessing of a full past and a limitless future?”

This reminded me of Indian mythological story of Yayati.

“Yayati was a man of amorous disposition, and his infidelity to Devayani, his wife, brought upon him the curse of old age and infirmity from her father, Sukra. This curse Sukra consented to transfer to any one of his sons who would consent to bear it. All refused except Puru, who undertook to resign his youth in his father's favour. Yayati, after a thousand years spent in sensual pleasures, renounced sensuality, restored his vigour to Puru, and made him his successor.”

Yayati is a fascinating story and needs to be told by as good a director as Coppola.

Marathi writer V S Khandekar wrote an award (Jnanpith Award 1974) winning novel on the subject but for my taste, it’s a bad work. (By the way along with Vijay Tendulkar, Khandekar is the most popular Marathi writer outside Maharashtra. At IIT Madras, in early 1980’s, my Tamil speaking friend told me that they had a good writer in Tamil called Khandekar!)

Medicines like Viagra and the scalpel of a plastic surgeon have changed the definition of youth now.

BENEDICT CAREY reported for NYT on August 22, 2007 Most Americans remain sexually active into their 60s, and nearly half continue to have sex regularly into their early 70s……”

Today’s male Yayati is likely to be all pharmacy and female Yayati all surgery!


Artist: William Hamilton The New Yorker May 15, 2000