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."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sakharam Binder सखाराम बाईंडर and the Basic Middle-Class Hunger for Property

Writing Vijay Tendulkar’s विजय तेंडुलकर obit, Girish Karnad says:

“…Then came Sakharam Binder. It's not only Tendulkar's best play, but one of the masterpieces of Indian drama. When first performed, several political parties united to demand a ban on the play, and it had to be rescued by the courts. Its critics claimed to be scandalised by its overt sexuality. But one suspects that Tendulkar had once again hit a raw nerve, the basic middle-class hunger for property as a guarantee of security, and the ruthlessness this hunger could unleash. Lakshmi, a perfect embodiment of Hindu womanly virtues, manoeuvres a murder to keep the roof intact over her head, invulnerable in her sense of moral rectitude…” (Outlook June 2, 2008)

This angle I had never thought.

As real estate prices climb relentlessly in Pune, everyday one hears sordid stories of greed, corruption, moral decay and crumbling family values. Duryodhana’s following words don’t sound all that far-fetched: “The Pandavas will not receive even a needle- point of territory,"

In 1980’s, I lived in a Bombay where girls fell in love only after ascertaining where the suitor’s property was located. Western suburbs upto Andheri were preferred over eastern ones. I had no chance because I had neither! Now I joke about it, then I felt castrated.

Now, the whole of urban India is Bombay.

I mentioned ancient India by quoting from the Mahabharata. Let us turn to an example from American history.

WILLIAM HOGELAND said in NYT December 27, 2006:

“…In 1763, George III drew a line on a map stretching from modern-day Maine to modern-day Georgia, along the crest of the Appalachians. He declared it illegal to claim or settle land west of the line, all of which he reserved for Native Americans.

George Washington, a young colonel in the Virginia militia, instructed his land-buying agents in the many ways of getting around the law. Although Washington was not alone in acquiring forbidden tracts, few were as energetic in the illegal acquisition of western land…

… By the early 1770’s, George Washington had amassed vast tracts to which his titles were flatly invalid. The Revolution rectified that. With British law void, Washington emerged from the war with his titles legal by default…”

Jonathan Yardley said in Washington Post May 18, 2008:

“…Not merely did George Washington want the capital on the Potomac, he also "was determined to place the capital close to the Eastern Branch, today known as the Anacostia River, virtually across the Potomac from his own estate at Mount Vernon." Washington believed that the Potomac was fated to be the essential connection between the Atlantic and the rapidly growing West -- he didn't know, or more likely didn't want to know, that for most of the year much of the Potomac is unnavigable -- and "he stood to make a great deal of money" from a capital on the Potomac, a useful reminder that the motives of the Father of His Country were not always pristinely patriotic…”


Artist: Bruce Erik Kaplan The New Yorker 17 January 1994