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."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Painless to the Criminal and Terrible to the Beholder?

Laxmibai Tilak’s लक्ष्मीबाई टिळक Smritichitre स्मृतिचित्रे (Memory-pictures) 1934 is one of the best books written in Marathi.

It opens with a devastating event for the family. In an act of John Company's terrorism, her mother’s father is hanged by the British after the revolt/war/mutiny of 1857. This drives her father crazy resulting into disastrous consequences for her family.

I wish I could get to read the story of Laxmibai’s grandfather. She says he enjoyed the trust of poor and was loved by the town’s (Jalalpur जलालपूर)
residents.

There is very little documentation of that period available, in easily accessible Marathi sources. The only exception is “Maza pravas” by Godse Bhataji माझा प्रवास, गोडसे भटजी.

GEOFFREY WHEATCROFT writes in his review of “THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE 1781-1997” By Piers Brendon (NYT Books Update on November 23, 2008):

“…The growing realm in India was a corporate enterprise, literally so, run by “John Company,” as the East India Company was known, until what Indians no longer call the Indian Mutiny. This was put down with the most horrifying brutality by the British, raising not for the first time the question of who were the “savages” and who the civilized…”

I have always found darkest humour in following description of the event that took place much before 1857.

Elphinstone did not hesitate to order the (Brahmin) ringleaders (of a plot to murder all the Europeans in Pune) to be blown from guns, observing that this method of execution ‘contains two valuable elements of capital punishment; it is painless to the criminal and terrible to the beholder’.” (Philip Mason. “Men Who Ruled India”)



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