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."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Marathi Verbivores, 400 Years Old Tukaram तुकाराम Still Feeds Us.

In a classic "The Simpsons" episode, following exchange takes place:

"Lisa: While I was gone I got some really good advice from Paul and Linda McCartney.

Homer: Rock stars. Is there anything they don't know?"

([3F03] Lisa the Vegetarian Written by David S. Cohen, Directed by Mark Kirkland, Original airdate in N.A.: 15-Oct-95)

We are celebrating 400th birth anniversary of Saint Tukaram तुकाराम on February 11, 2008 वसंत पंचमी.

I ask: Is there anything Turkaram doesn’t know. (See my previous posts on Tukaram here.)

Some experts have argued that half of world's languages may become extinct by 2100. A few wonder if Marathi will ever join the list or become ‘only-spoken’ language. The onslaught of English and Hindi is relentless. My son uses a complex Hindi word instead of equivalent Marathi word quite effortlessly.

I feel as long as Bhakti literature of Marathi is doing well and we reinvent Marathi the way young people do, there is no such danger.

See “slang dunk” below to read the kind of words used in Mumbai colleges. They should be part of a standard Marathi dictionary. Are they?

Tukaram reinvented Marathi in 17th century. We all still speak his Marathi.

Among modern writers, B S Mardhekar बा सी मर्ढेकर, Bhau Padhye भाऊ पाध्ये, Namdeo Dhasal नामदेव ढसाळ, Jayant Narlikar जयंत नारळीकर (science), N S Phadke ना सी फडके (Cricket writing), Kumar Gandharva कुमार गंधर्व (music) made laudable efforts in "reinventing" Marathi.

See a related post here.

Steven Pinker recently wrote a book “THE STUFF OF THOUGHT / Language as a Window Into Human Nature”. Jonah Lehrer wrote in its review:
“…Human language is an emanation of the human mind. A thing doesn't care what we call it. Words and their rules don't tell us about the world; they tell us about ourselves…”

Even today Tukaram’s language tells us about ourselves, more effectively than anyone else.

p.s. My dear fantasy: Tukaram’s poems set to jazz tunes of John Coltrane!


Artist: Leo Cullum The New Yorker 25 December 1995