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."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Did a Power More than Human Give Letters their Shape? Answer it R K Joshi र कृ जोशी

Now he won't because R K Joshi who made pioneering efforts to establish aesthetics of Indian letterforms and revived academic, professional and research interest in Indian Calligraphy died on February 5, 2008.

Read wonderful tribute put together by C-DAC in Marathi on him here.

When I was in school (1965-1975), elders often talked about the quality of “hand-writing”, both Marathi and English. I thought I was doing OK with both.

My father disagreed. He said my letters were short unlike my brother and hence my handwriting was not pretty. He was right.

Later when I corresponded with D G Godse द ग गोडसे, he once wrote that my handwriting was good. He for sure was encouraging me. I have never liked my handwriting.

But I have admired it of many. Particularly Marathi ones.

Hindustan Times claimed that R K Joshi “brought about the realisation that alphabet can have aesthetic value”. That obviously is very sloppy. The realisation had been there for much longer.

I liked Joshi's Marathi initials more. कृ (Kru) there stood out like a peacock, between mundane र(R) and जोशी(Joshi), full of possibilities. When you pronounced his name, there was an echo to it.

He was a scholar in the tradition of V K Rajwade वि का राजवाडे. Ready to put in any amount of effort to get slightly closer to the truth. In fact he showed us a whole new way to approach the truth: Calligraphy.

Plato's dialogues mention, "a power more than human gave things their first names." Did a power more than human give letters their shape?

In Japan, ancient samurai swords and calligraphy both are national treasures. In India, we have even stopped talking about the quality of handwriting.

Vasant Sarwate वसंत सरवटे had some fun with our alphabets. Here is an example.

The picture shows two Marathi letters. One of the left is pronounced “TO” which means he and one on the right is pronounced “TEE” which means she. The caption reads:
She: “Now who all are you going to suspect?”

Artist: Vasant Sarwate source: Cartooning-Drawing (व्यंगकला- चित्रकला) Majestic Prakashan 2005.