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."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How Democracies Can Elect Hitler and Defeat Mahatma Phule महात्मा फुले

Indians are proud of their democracy. They feel it facilitates social mobility in a caste ridden society and is the least flawed of all forms of governance.

I agree with this assessment.

Ian Kershaw wrote on February 3, 2008:

How democracy produced a monster: Could something like it happen again? That is invariably the first question that comes to mind when recalling that Hitler was given power in Germany 75 years ago last week.

With the world now facing such great instability, the question seems more obvious than ever.

Hitler came to power in a democracy with a highly liberal constitution, and in part by using democratic freedoms to undermine and then destroy democracy itself…

…These distant events still have echoes today. In Europe, in the wake of increased immigration, most countries have experienced some revival of neo-fascist movements. Not so long ago, Serbian nationalism, inflamed by President Slobodan Milosevic, set off war and ethnic cleansing within the Continent…”

Marathi daily Pudhari पुढारी reported on March 19, 2008:

“125 years ago on March 19, 1883, two of the greatest Indians ever, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule महात्मा ज्योतिबा फुले (1827-1890) and Gopal Hari Deshmukh aka Lokhitwadi गोपाळ हरी देशमुख लोकहितवादी (1823-1892)- were trounced by conservatives in local elections.

In Vetal Peth वेताळ पेठ, Phule got zero votes and in Bhavai Peth भवानी पेठ he got just two votes, including his own vote. Keeping him company, in Shukravar Peth शुक्रवार पेठ, Lokhitwadi got zero votes.”

Pudhari claimed that today Phule would surely get elected because his agenda of social reforms is now universally accepted etc. (Btw- No such claim was made on behalf of Lokhitwadi.)

In deeply divided on caste lines of today's Maharashtra, I am not sure about Phule's electoral prospects but Lokhitwadi would surely be defeated in year 2008!

Artist: Frank Modell The New Yorker 12 January 1957