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 23, 2007

Pean to Potato

Business Line October 22, 2007 has published an AFP story on potato “Diplomatic tool, humbler of leaders, unifier of nations

To begin with,personal disclaimer:
Potato not just sustains lives of my son and I but gives us ultimate gastronomic pleasure. My wife though could get by without it.

I often think a writer like Dnyaneshwar (along with Tukaram, the best Marathi produced) was handicapped not because of absence of 21st century toys and gadgets in his 13th century but he didn’t know potato (introduced in India in late 16th / early 17th century), chilli (introduced in India in late 15th century) and dinosaurs (discovered in 19th century).

Imagine how more powerful metaphors and imagery Dnyaneshwar would have created if he knew potato, chilli and T-rex!

AFP story says: “Few vegetables can claim to have shaped nations, sent the economy of a country tumbling, or played a starring role in diplomatic spats. But the humble potato can….

The impact of the humble tuber stretches back centuries. The population of Ireland was cut in half in the mid 1800s after the potato crop failed and a four-year famine ensued. The then agriculture-based Irish economy crumbled and the population plummeted from eight million to four million, through deaths from hunger and emigration.
It only surpassed the four million mark in the 1990s, when Ireland entered an economic boom.The massive wave of emigration from Ireland, sparked by the potato famine, shaped politics and history not only locally but also in the United States, the destination for the vast majority of those who left…”

In 1997, Tony Blair, British Prime Minister, apologized to Ireland for the famine which caused 1 million deaths. Many Irish people believe that Britain, which controlled the land, was more than negligent -- that it in fact worsened the problem by allowing the profitable export of grain and cattle from Ireland even as the poor starved.

(Btw- I wonder if Britain ever apologized to India for the Bengal famine of 1943 that occurred in British administered Bengal. It is estimated that 1.5-3 million people died from starvation and malnutrition during the period.)

And finally, what does potato on the plate have to do with the one on couch?

“British potato farmers have marched on the houses of parliament in London to demand that the term "couch potato" be removed from the dictionary. They argued the expression - which is derived from the slang word for a television, "tube", which gave rise to "tubers" for those who spent hours hunkered down on the sofa gazing at it - gave the impression that potatoes are bad for the health and, therefore, bad for their business.”


‘You want us to go up the hill to fetch a pail of water? Not now we’re watching TV.’

The Spectator September 8, 2007