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.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

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."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is Non Resident Maharashtrian Just a P-L-Deshpande-Book-Eating Lobster Robot?

Non Resident Indians based in USA keep coming under fire from different quarters- Vasant Sarwate, R K Laxman, Ramachandra Guha, Gurcharan Das etc.

But no attack I read has been as vitriolic as this one. It is targeted at Non Resident Maharashtrians.

I found it handy for The New Yorker Cartoon Caption contest # 161.

GPD EPW Issue : VOL 43 No. 28 July 12 - July 18, 2008

“…The NRMs have decided to celebrate the language that they rarely if at all speak. But they cannot be blamed. Their relatives and friends do not speak it either…

… A number of them went to modest schools in Pune, Nagpur or Mumbai. They perhaps read some books then. Most of them must have read the grand icon of the middle classes, P L Deshpande. They would remember a few of his jokes and witticisms. They would have seen some DVDs of his one-man performances. Whatever little Marathi they might speak there would be for telling each other PL’s “jokes”. Not for any reason is he called “Maharashtrache Ladke Vyaktimatva” (Maharashtra’s icon). Of course there is no reason why they cannot or should not celebrate their icons. And, after all, “PL” was no ordinary writer.

But then the point is that it amounts to nostalgia for those years of lower middle class living. The NRMs do not give the benefits of being cyber slaves. An occasional return to culture and tradition leaves them in peace with themselves and with their past…

… Most of the NRMs are cyber slaves in the Silicon Valley. They have no clue as to what is happening in the world of Marathi letters…”



Artist: Michael Crawford The New Yorker Sept 22 2008 Cartoon Caption contest 161

Proposed caption:

“Hey, so you are not just a P-L-Deshpande-book-eating lobster robot from the Silicon Valley. You are trying to clasp the culture.”

3 comments:

Chetan said...

Being an NRM myself, I find GPD's vitriol laughable at best. The piece is incoherent pile of trash. The author should be sent for a crash course in writing. (Maybe the NRMs might contribute towards to course fees)

His writing is full of sentences ending in exclamation marks. The writer is literally whoring attention through use of words like crass, vulgar, cyber slaves etc, when the same point can be made, and much more powerfully at that, with use of appropriate words. The piece reads as if the writer is talking down to his audience. The author does not come across as a serious critic of the Sammelans at all. Because of his penchant for using every opportunity to pass snide remarks eg: "The NRMs have decided to celebrate the language they rarely if at all speak," I can picture a bitter man shouting at the top of his voice, frothing at the mouth with anger which is directed everywhere and at everyone. His lunacy knows no bounds as he conflates entirely unrelated issues. He starts off with elections, then passes some snide remark about rebel sammelans and ends curiously with people wanting to change religion masquerading as rebels! Pray tell me what that has got anything to do with MSS? Then after every paragraph he cannot restrain himself from scratching his ideological itch. This results in completely unrelated issues such as Bush presidency, Shivaji Statue, nostalgia for lower middle class lifestyle, nuclear deal popping up where they draw the attention away from what is being discussed while trivialising their own importance.

The author has not even attempted any understanding of the subject he is purportedly so passionate about. Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting that NRMs should not be criticised or that charade of the sahitya sammelans not be exposed. But I strongly feel that cursory and dismissive manner is not the right way to go if you want some self-introspection from your readers.

This piece could have beautifully explored the issue of literature in private versus public domain. That was one good point the author made and then without exploring it any further went onto taking cheap potshots at NRMs. Even with the NRMs, the author could have talked about marathi blogs, loss of language and means of coping adopted by NRMs or their insecurity leading to increase in celebratory and loud proclamations of cultural consciousness amongst etc. However, the author does not seem interested in nuance. Like a group of old men sitting in a temple compound taking pleasure in complaining about their daughter in law, GPD seems content with the world that provides him with material to lament and which does not confer any responsibility for digging out reasons and providing solutions.

I am surprised that you linked to the piece with absolutely not criticism. Even considering that fact that you agree with the author and think that NRMs deserve whatever is hurled at them, I think you could still have objected to the tone or atleast mentioned that this is not the most nuanced of criticisms. Just my thoughts.

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

I don't agree with a lot of what GPD says. Not just with what I quote here but on a lot of other issues. Remember MFH's knowledge of Ramayana?

However, this blog points to all kinds of things without adding its own.

And finally, John Maynard Keynes: "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking."

Chetan said...

It isn't about you agreeing with GPD or not. Probably my vitriol obfuscated the point I was trying to make. That person offered no insight into the issue he wrote more than 1000 words on. The fact that this article gets published in EPW is a telling comment on their shoddy editorial standards. I thought you followed higher standards on your blog.

Yes, words ought to be a little wild. But if they end but being a string of wild words with no coherent picture emerging through their montage, then they are just noise. For the words to be an assault of thoughts on the unthinking, they need to convey something and should not come from an unthinking person.

I am seriously appalled that you think that the author's words were worth linking to. Frankly, the worst blogger in the Indian blogosphere will be able to write better prose and make a coherent critique than GPD. And unless readers shun him and stop him from stroking his ego, he will keep on spewing venom and feeling smug about himself. Such a windbag!

I urge you, read the piece again. It makes absolutely no point but revels in taking cheap potshots and passing insipid snide remarks.