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."

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.