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."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Uninterrupted Capitalism Always Turns Che Guevara into Bikini Brand

MARC LACEY for NYT (October 9, 2007) says: “In fact, 40 years after his death, Che — born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna — is as much a marketing tool as an international revolutionary icon. Which raises the question of what exactly does the sheer proliferation of his image — the distant gaze, the scraggly beard and the beret adorned with a star — mean in a decidedly capitalist world?”

I read George Orwell’s Animal Farm, translated in Marathi by my father, when I was still in school. I cried when Boxer was taken away to the slaughterhouse. I did not understand that it was a parable for failed Russian revolution.

I still became passionate communist for good part of my college life. Lenin, Che Guevara, Castro, Mao, Ho Chi Minh became heroes. I particularly liked Anil Barve’s Marathi play “Thank you, Mr. Glad” based on the life of a surgeon-turned-Naxalite.

Then I experienced first hand violent labour union movement of Datta Samant at Mukand Iron and Steel, Kalwa from 1983-84 and Animal-Farm-style-pigs-like-union at Nocil (1984-87). (Nocil, a blue chip, was a much bigger company than Reliance Industries then). Later I also read about membership of Lenin and Mao of “Thirty Million Club”.

(Brad DeLong- “Call those political leaders whose followers and supporters have slaughtered more than ten million of their fellow humans "members of the Ten-Million Club.”… The twentieth century has seen perhaps five people join the Ten Million Club: Adolf Hitler, Chiang Kaishek, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao have credentials that may well make them the charter members of the Thirty Million Club as well–perhaps the Fifty Million Club.)

I was disillusioned with communism for life at the age of 27.

Graham Greene’s books gave a new pair of glasses for looking at communism. He says Catholics and communists are never indifferent to you and that is their chief quality.

It was not long before disillusionment came with capitalism too.

Greene has said: “The terrifying weight of this (USA’s) consumer society oppresses me”

Guardian (Chris Petit) reviewed Benjamin R Barber’s book “Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilise Adults and Swallow Citizens Whole” on June 23, 2007.

“…There are 24 million compulsive shoppers in the US. According to a study commissioned by Yahoo!, members of the My Media generation can, by multi-tasking, fit up to 44 hours of activity into one day. With desire propelled in excess of the speed of light anything is possible, hence the growing number of internet addiction disorder clinics in the US. Shopping also functions like pornography, another form of accelerated desire with an emphasis on repetition. For the first time in history, a society has felt its economic survival demands a kind of "controlled regression, a culture that promotes puerility rather than maturation"….

…Benjamin Barber fears that this process of infantilisation, combined with the associated practices of branding and privatisation, threatens democracy. Privatisation has merely privatised corruption and inequality without providing more adequate supplies or even turning much of a profit.”

Petit agrees but warns: “If capitalism continues uninterrupted, then the cure of self-restraint will become another commercial facet of consumerism, like weight-watching or dieting or healthy eating - just another giant business in its own right. “

Capitalism will simply swallow its proposed cure. We have to interrupt capitalism. How?


The New Yorker