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."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Indian Men: The Bliss of Losing the Self

Disclaimer- I very much belong to this species.

V S Naipaul: “The outer world matters only in so far as it affects the inner. It is the Indian way of experiencing…”

Sudhir Kakar: “We Indians use the outside reality to preserve the continuity of the self amidst an ever changing flux of outer events and things. Men do not, therefore, actively explore the world; rather, they are defined by it. It is this negative way of perceiving that goes with ‘meditation’, the striving after the infinite, the bliss of losing the self; it also goes with karma and the complex organization of Indian life.”

(“India: A Wounded Civilization” by V.S. Naipaul, 1977)

Naipaul on Mahatma Gandhi:


(Double click on the picture to get a larger view)

Ashok Shahane on the journey of Saint Namdev संत नामदेव (c.1270-c. 1350 CE) from Maharashtra to Punjab, contrasting him with Marco Polo, al beruni, Ibn Battuta .


अशोक शहाणे Ashok Shahane (नपेक्षा, Napeksha 2005)

(Namdev however was not self-effacing at probably the most important event in his life: Sant Dnyāneshwar ज्ञानेश्वर taking to salvation (Samadhi) in 1296 CE. It's only because of him we know so much about it.)

‘Prabodhankar’ Thackeray on our habit of not documenting, contrasting it strongly with the British habit, practised by men like James Grant Duff:


"रंगो बापूजी" , केशव सीताराम ठाकरे ऊर्फ प्रबोधनकार ठाकरे, 1948
(“Rango Bapuji” by Prabodhankar Thackeray)

Nothing surprises me since I learnt this:

SN 1054 (Crab Supernova) was a supernova that was widely seen on earth in the year 1054. It was recorded by Chinese and Arab astronomers as being bright enough to see in daylight for 23 days and was visible in the night sky for 653 days, outshining the most brilliant stars in the heavens.

Dr. Jayant Narlikar in his book “The Scientific Edge” (Penguin Books India 2003) has a chapter titled “The Search for records of the Sighting of the Crab Supernova”. It describes Herculean efforts put in by his team to locate any record of this grand celestial event in Indian historical records, including popular literature. Sadly, they failed.