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."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tom and Jerry in Stone. At Mamallapuram, 1300 Years ago.

Frontline January 4, 2008 has a story on Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) as 10th part of a 25-part series on Indian art.

Three things I enjoyed most about my stay in Madras were- affordable and efficient Pallavan Transport Corporation, IIT campus and above all Mamallapuram.

I went to Mamallapuram a few times. Its beauty is ethereal because "In Indic vision, there is no marked division between the divine and the earthly. All that there is, is sacred. There is a grace that underlies all that there is. Our response to that grace when we see it is considered to be a moment when we get a glimpse of the Truth. Bringing this realisation to us is the purpose of Indian art. All forms and all deities are a means towards the realisation of the inherent unity of the whole of creation."

But this is true of many other places in India.

What stands out most for me there is the carving I call the original Tom & Jerry.

Frontline describes it as : "...On the opposite bank is a charming depiction of a cat performing penance. He has deluded some mice into believing that he is an ascetic. This could be a story from the Mahabharata in which a sad fate overtakes the trusting mice. It could also be a witty comment being made by the artists on hypocrisy in contemporary practices..."

I don't subscribe to this view.

I say : cat is performing penance, therefore it can't move and hence mice are pulling its leg. Just like Tom & Jerry.

I have often wondered what it must have been when architects and builders conceived this humour in hard grey granite. I wish I were at the table!

For me, it depicts the uncomplicated sense of humour of Tamil people- arguably the funniest people in India- who have a rare capacity to laugh at themselves and to discover humour in everyday mundane situations. It's no coincidence that much imitated Nagesh is probably the greatest comic actor India produced.

Who doesn't love Tom and Jerry? Tom and Jerry is an animated cartoon series of MGM produced from 1940 until 1957. It is widely considered one of the best animated cartoon series ever.

Here it is in stone, not in celluloid:


Mamallapuram, c A.D. 630 to A.D. 728

In right hand bottom quadrant, spot Tom performing penance and Jerry as usual bothering him


And after Tom's penance was over, this happened...