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!"

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."

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."

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