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."

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