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."

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.