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!"

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."

Chris Ware: "Being a cartoonist means you don’t consider yourself too fancy."

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: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Vasant Sarwate Celebrates Birthday with a Dazzling New Book

On February 3, 2008- his 82nd birthday- a new book of Vasant Sarwate was published: "रेषालेखक वसंत सरवटे" ,संपादन: दिलीप माजगावकर / मधुकर धर्मापुरीकर, राजहंस प्रकाशन, 2009 (“Line-writer Vasant Sarwate” edited by Dileep Majgaonkar / Madhukar Dharmapurikar).

Read more about the event here.

It’s beautifully produced and attractively priced- just Rs. 125.

Suhas Palshikar in his brilliant Marathi essay for “Samaj Prabodhan Patrika April-June 2008” asked:

“गरिबांना भुक्कड सुविधा पुरवणं आपल्या लोकशाहीला कसं परवडतं?

(How can Our Democracy Afford to Provide Third-rate Services to the Poor?)

Well, Sarwate has raised and answered such questions related to Indian democracy from 1947-2009.

Most of the pictures are eternal. They just prove once again why Sarwate is arguably the greatest creative artist Marathi language produced in 20th century. (btw-His nearest competition: Laxmibai Tilak, Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar, C V Joshi, Arun Kolatkar, Acharya Atre, Master Vinayak, Kumar Gandharva (लक्ष्मीबाई टिळक, श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर, चि वि जोशी, अरुण कोलटकर, आचार्य अत्रे, मास्टर विनायक, कुमार गंधर्व)).

In Marathi intellectual world, there is little appreciation of visual arts, let alone that of subtle art of cartooning.

Even the title of this book is biased towards writers and blurbs on the back cover- both Vinda Karandikar विंदा करंदीकर and S P Bhagwat श्री पु भागवत disappointing with their platitudes- don't do any justice to Sarwate's talent. (I know how tender S P Bhagwat gets appreciating B S Mardhekar's बा सी मर्ढेकर poetry.)

Why don't these guys remember Ajanta or Halebidu or Jagte Raho or The Simpsons watching Sarwate's pictures?

Maybe सदानंद रेगे Sadanand Rege would have with a poem titled: "सरवटे गोंधळ घालतात- नाथांचा आणि लाथांचा!" (Here I remember his poems on Keshavsut's केशवसुत death and D G Godse's द ग गोडसे visit to Mastani's grave.)

A O Scott observes: "...I have long been of the opinion that the entire history of American popular culture — maybe even of Western civilization — amounts to little more than a long prelude to “The Simpsons.”"

Clearly a new paradigm needs to emerge in Marathi criticism to fully appreciate the art of Vasant Sarwate.

In a masterly essay on James Thurber, Paul Johnson writes: "...A score of his published cartoons are masterly, and five in the highest class in history. When I contemplate them, I sometimes feel that after a lifetime of studying and practising art, I know nothing about it..."

Surely, I know nothing about it but I hope Sarwate soon gets his own Paul Johnson.


"...I feel miserable by this arson. Our bright secular tradition has once again been blackened..err..I mean, bright secular tradition has been blackened..."

Artist: Vasant Sarwate वसंत सरवटे, 1970, First Published in Manoos माणूस Weekly