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."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Defying Gravitas; Jumping for the Sheer Joy of Cricket

I have an old Life magazine issue that has few pictures of celebrities jumping at the command of American portrait photographer Philippe Halsman.

Halsman used to say, "When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears." The photographer developed a philosophy of jump photography, which he called jumpology.He published Philippe Halsman's Jump Book in 1959 (see picture below), which contained a tongue-in-cheek discussion of jumpology and 178 photographs of celebrity jumpers.”

Halsman, who had 101 Life covers to his credit when he died in 1979, felt a portrait that did not show psychological insight was "an empty likeness" of its subject. Richard Nixon, Aldous Huxley, Marilyn Monroe, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor are among the celebrities he launches into orbit.

Smithsonian magazine, October 2006:

“The freezing of motion has a long and fascinating history in photography, whether of sports, fashion or war. But rarely has stop-action been used in the unlikely, whimsical and often mischievous ways that Philippe Halsman employed it…

… Portraiture is one of the greatest challenges in photography, because the human face is elusive and often mask-like, with practiced expressions for the standard range of emotions. Some photographers accept these preset expressions—think of annual-report portraits of corporate officers—and others try to eliminate expression altogether, to get a picture as neutral as a wanted poster. Halsman was determined to show his sitters with their masks off but their true selves in place…”

I wonder what Halsman would have made of R P Singh who seems to jump with such unalloyed joy and no touch of malice.

Philippe Halsman "Jump Book" (notice Brigitte Bardot in second row extreme right)

RP Singh after getting through Adam Gilchrist, Australia vs India, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day, January 17, 2008