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."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Was Anand Yadav Terrified?

"...even though fifty years have passed since natives have taken power, instead of becoming fearless, people feel increasingly terrified..."

from य दि फडके "नथुरामायण" Y D Phadke "Nathuramayan" (1998)

अखिल भारतीय मराठी साहित्य संमेलन All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan has little to do with मराठी Marathi literature but, like elections, has everything to do with entertainment.

Therefore, I like it to continue every year until I die.

This year डॉ. आनंद यादव (Dr. Anand Yadav) first 'withdrew' (for the first time in the entire history of books?) his book-'संतसूर्य तुकाराम' (Saint-Sun Tukaram) and then gave up his chair of presidency.

Yadav got lucky. Neither his house was burnt. Nor was he lynched.

If he were a Brahmin and had written about Shivaji शिवाजी the way he did about Tukaram, he (along with Brahmins like me) would be pushing the luck too far.

For Prospect Magazine April 2009, Kenan Malik has talked to Hanif Kureishi about the Rushdie fatwa and why no one would write such a book today.

‘“Nobody,” Kureishi suggests, “would have the balls today to write The Satanic Verses, let alone publish it. Writing is now timid because writers are now terrified.”…

Despite Kureishi’s brush with Islamism, he never saw The Satanic Verses controversy coming. “I first read The Satanic Verses in proof copy. I didn’t notice anything about it that might rouse the fundamentalists. I saw it as a book about psychosis, about newness and change. The 1980s was an age of fusion—in music, in food, in literature. The Satanic Verses was part of that postmodern fusion.” Even when the protests began, he didn’t take them seriously…

Kureishi does not even remember the book-burning. “It didn’t register,” he says. “Only with the fatwa did it become clear how serious and dangerous it was. It seemed mad to imagine that someone could be killed over a book. I was flabbergasted. How could a community that I identified with turn against a writer who was one of its most articulate voices?”

The Rushdie affair, Kureishi believes, transformed not just his own work, but also “the very notion of writing.” The fatwa “created a climate of terror and fear. Writers had to think about what they were writing in a way they never had to before. Free speech became an issue as it had not been before. Liberals had to take a stand, to defend an ideology they had not really had to think about before.” How have they borne up to the task? “The attacks on Rushdie showed that words can be dangerous. They also showed why critical thought is more important than ever, why blasphemy and immorality and insult need protection. But most people, most writers, want to keep their heads down, live a quiet life. They don’t want a bomb in the letterbox. They have succumbed to the fear.”’