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."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is a Real Oriental, Edward Said?

Do only insiders can know the truth about their societies? Edward Said’s much-discussed Orientalism (1978) thought so.

About it, David S. Landes said his classic “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” (1998):

“Insofar as one uses this claim to discredit the work of intellectual adversaries, it is polemical and antiscientific. But insofar as it points to the instrumental value and power of information, for good and for bad, it makes an important point.”

While reviewing 'The Great Transformation' by Karen Armstrong, JOHN WILSON said:

“…In our own time of "great fear and pain,"Armstrong proposes that we look to the Axial sages for "two important pieces of advice," both of which turn out to be quite uncontroversial: We should practice self-criticism (amen), and we should "take practical, effective action" against excessively aggressive tendencies in our own traditions (amen again).

But after 400 pages of historical argument, the banality of such declarations is staggering.

Yes, we need to learn to see things from other points of view. But once we have done that, once indifference and ignorance and prejudice and other obstacles are cleared away, real differences — political, religious, and cultural — remain. “ (NYT, April 30, 2006)

Wilson sounds as if it is easy to clear indifference and ignorance.

On the other hand, it’s impossible to clear it considering following state of affairs in USA.

Susan Jacoby, author of “The Age of American Unreason”:

“Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.” She pointed to a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located. So more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map.” (NYT February 14, 2008)


“… Most people at the CIA don't speak foreign languages, so communications between and within other nations go untranslated…” (Doug Brown’s review of “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA” by Tim Weiner). (Powells.com February 16,2008)

Why just middle-east? In the West, I feel, quality of scholarship about India was better in 19th century than today. Many India based 'popular' Indian historians don't read Indian language books to source their material.
I have already written about ignorance of likes of V S Naipaul when it comes to India. For the same reason, even many educated and well-off Indians- living in India and abroad- are ignorant about India.


Artist: Ned Hilton The New Yorker 5 September 1936