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."

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