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.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

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: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

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...