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."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Supreme Court of India, How about Blowing from Guns?

The Times of India reported on July 7, 2009:

"Hanging by the neck till death would continue to be the mode of execution of condemned prisoners, Supreme Court (of India) said on Monday refusing to entertain a PIL seeking replacement of the ‘cruel and painful’ method with the ‘lethal injection’, a method practised in the US.

"How do you know that hanging causes pain? And how do you know that injecting the condemned prisoner with a lethal drug would not cause pain?" asked a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam..."

The court is right. We don't know.

But can we trust the judgment of very learned Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779–1859)?

Elphinstone did not hesitate to order the (Brahmin) ringleaders (of a plot to murder all the Europeans in Pune) to be blown from guns, observing that this method of execution ‘contains two valuable elements of capital punishment; it is painless to the criminal and terrible to the beholder’.”

(Philip Mason. “Men Who Ruled India”)

If we do, the following picture requires a small correction. Instead of tying the convict to the stump, he needs to be put in the barrel.

You still don't need additional staff!

And does the executioner have a sense of humour like Daulatrao Shinde दौलतराव शिंदे (1779 – 1827), the king of Gwalior state?

He ordered execution of his own commander-in-chief Narayanrao Baxi नारायणराव बक्षी by launching him into the sky, with the help of explosives attached to his body, to make a pun: "बक्षीचा पक्षी केला" ("Made bird of Bakshi")! (source: Marhati Lavani by M V Dhond, 1956 मर्हाटी लावणी, म. वा. धोंड)

After reading Mountstuart Elphinstone, I feel Daulatrao was a kind man. He could have chosen to crush Bakshi by elephant, the way Baji Rao II chose to deal with Vithoji Holkar विठोजी होळकर in April 1801, and let Holkar's corpse remain in the street near his palace for 24 hours so that he could enjoy watching it from window.

'Due to staff cutbacks...'

The Spectator