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.”
Albert Einstein: “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.” (To P. Moos, March 30, 1950. Einstein Archives 60-587)
Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”
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."
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: "… इ. स. 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
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