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, March 17, 2009

Now Showing: Amitabh’s Uranium

In India, the most talked about element in year 2008 was uranium. Panacea to all our problems of national security and energy.

DRAKE BENNETT (NYT March 8, 2009):

“When it comes to press coverage, uranium does pretty well among its peers on the periodic table. Surely strontium or seaborgium or even manganese would kill for its name recognition. But how well do we really know the element in whose long, mushroom-shaped shadow we all live? If someone handed you two rocks and asked which was uranium, would you have any idea how to tell?

Probably not. For most of us, uranium is an abstraction, more like a vitamin or a gigabyte than like, say, copper. We know it is important, and we know more or less what it’s for, but it’s not something we’d recognize by sight.

With “Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock That Shaped the World,” the journalist Tom Zoellner sets out to rectify that lack of familiarity. Part history and part travel narrative, the book presents the atomic age not through its scientists or grand strategists, but through its raw material: an undistinguished-looking ore, more common than tin, whose destructive power when refined is hard, even today, to imagine. As Zoellner writes, “A single atom of uranium is strong enough to twitch a grain of sand. A sphere of it the size of a grapefruit can eliminate a city.”…”

Uranium deserves to be featured in a blockbuster Hindi film: “Amitabh’s Uranium” (inspired by Mackenna's Gold , 1969)


Artist: Alain, The New Yorker, 8 March 1947