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."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Earworm - I Did Not Know What You Were Called!

I remember an incident from 1970's at my home in Miraj.

When my mother was away and father was cooking, he hummed a song. My sister picked it up and started singing it herself. That angered my father so much that she really got an earful from him that day.

I learnt a lesson.

Now I know what happened. My sister had got earworm-ohrwurms. She just couldn’t help it.

I remember Isaq Mujawar इसाक मुजावर in 1970’s writing a long article in Marathi magazine Rasarang रसरंग on phenomenon of “Hammer Music” in Hindi film music industry. The article talked about the tactics new music directors and their corporates were deploying to succeed.

Mujawar perhaps meant using earworms.

I also remember one particular Ganesh festival from 1970’s in the neighbourhood when they only played songs of Dada Kondke’s दादा कोंडके Songadya सोंगाड्या (1971) for all ten days.

I had my quota of earworms for the whole year.

What are earworms?

Michael Johnson has written about it: “I can't get that tune out of my head” (December 20, 2007).

“…the exasperating phenomenon of tunes that get stuck on the brain – ohrwurms…

… At least one professor, James Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati, is looking to discover what makes them so irritating and so persistent.

Whatever it is, it's hard to escape the earworm at this time of year, with shopping malls and public streets bombarding you with holiday tunes. It matters not whether you like the music. In fact the less you like it, the longer it seems to hang around in the memory cells, circling the mind relentlessly.

When this happens, the neurologist Oliver Sacks writes, "the music has entered and subverted part of the brain, forcing it to fire repetitively . . . as may happen with a tic or a seizure."

… Musical memory takes many curious forms. Researchers say the constant repetition of popular music - inescapable today in iPods, portable CD players, on the radio, in the air everywhere - trains us from childhood to expect certain patterns of notes. This enables worn-out melodies to take up residence comfortably in the brain, where the patterns have been deeply etched.

Musicians, unlike the rest of us, exploit this cranial quirk and put way hours of material that they then can summon at will.

The continuous exercising of the brain's musical ability leaves physical tracks…”

Earworm machine:


Artist: Tom Cheney 13 May 1991 The New Yorker