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!"

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."

Chris Ware: "Being a cartoonist means you don’t consider yourself too fancy."

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: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Inflation Hurts Literature too! तानी मावशीचे दोन आणे.

Christian Lorentzen,

‘Fictitious Values/ Boom and bust in twenty-first-century lit’, Bookforum, June/July/August 2012:


"The banality of money may be a reason writers shy away from quoting dollar amounts. If we can’t escape prices in our daily lives, can’t we at least escape them in novels? Besides the risks of committing an embarrassing inaccuracy and alienating the reader, who may have completely different notions about what constitutes a living wage or a reasonable price for a sandwich, quoting actual numbers dates the work in a way that it didn’t in the relatively inflation-free bullion-backed nineteenth century."


Although it continues to be legal tender, 25-paisa coin (Hindi चवन्नी , Marathi पावली) is no longer accepted at Pune.

I have used 1-paisa, 2-paisa, 3-paisa, 5-paisa, 10-paisa and 20-paisa coins in the past. They all gave me tremendous pleasure because all of them once could buy me some favourite food- candy, peppermint, peanuts, puffed rice, biscuits etc.

Thanks to inflation, they are now dead as dodoes.

The Economist, December 8th 2007 confirmed: "The Economist's food-price index is higher today than at any time since it was created in 1845." (see chart at the bottom of this post).

Inflation kills poor and those who don't own assets.

SWAMINATHAN S ANKLESARIA AIYAR said in his essay ”Independence & the Bengal famine” of August 20, 2003:

“…(during the world war II) Massive inflation was the inevitable outcome, something that did not happen in Britain itself. The food price index (1937=100) shot up to 311 by 1949 in India...The data reflect the rationed price of food in India: the black market price was even higher.

Now, inflation is very good for producers and asset owners. All property owners saw property values skyrocket. Rising agricultural prices benefited all landowners, and even small ones got out of debt and bought fresh land. Many new salaried jobs were created by the war, and the problem of the educated unemployed disappeared. Above all, the business class flourished…

… The real wages of factory workers declined 30% between 1939 and 1943…

…The rural landless in India were the worst hit. They had neither access to the new urban jobs or rationed urban supplies. Ranging from a quarter of the rural population in Bengal to over half in Madras, they bore the brunt of spiralling prices..."

Inflation affects even literature.

Marathi literature, cinema contain many references to monetary aspects of everyday life- salary, loan, food, education, marriage, illness, land price- expressed in rupees and paise. Understanding them is very vital to appreciate the art.

Inflation makes us numb to them.

Here is an example.

तानी मावशी: “…अणि हे घे दोन आणे तुला, वाटेत फारच भूक लागली तर काहीतरी विकत घे …”

(Tanee Maternal-aunt: “..and take this two annas for you, if you feel very hungry during the journey, buy something…”)

[जी ए कुलकर्णी “कैरी” पिंगळावेळ G A Kulkarni “Raw Mango” Owl Time 1977]

Two annas meant 12 paise.

G A Kulkarni-sir, two annas won’t buy me anything today and worse, my son doesn’t even understand this currency.

I wonder if we need to print consumer price index of the year against each such reference!


‘A shilling? How long have you been drunk?’

The Spectator 2007