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."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where is India's Naji al-Ali?

"...शब्द म्हणजे निव्वळ तोंडचा वारा; त्यांना रक्त नाही की मांस नाही, पण एखाद्या प्रेषिताचे आत्मसमर्पण मनावर सतत आदळत राहिले तर त्याच्या रक्ताची अमर नक्षत्रे होतात, त्याच्या शब्दांत विश्वाचे हुंकार ऐकू येतात... "

(यात्रिक, "पिंगळा वेळ", जी ए कुलकर्णी, १९७७)

["...Words are only wind from the mouth; they have neither blood nor flesh, but if a messiah's sacrifice keeps banging against mind then his words turn into immortal constellations, in his words we hear consenting-grunts of the universe..."]

(Yatrik, "Pingla Vel", G A Kulkarni, 1977)

I am greatly fond of many Indian cartoonists.

I feel Vasant Sarwate is one of the greatest creative talent to come out of Maharashtra in 20th century.

We also have/had Abu Abraham, R K Laxman, Ravi Shankar, Sudhir Tailang, O. V. Vijayan, Bal Thackeray, K. Shankar Pillai...

But we in India surely never had any one like visionary Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali.

I saw his cartoons on July 11 2009 for the first time in my life. And it was like watching Pablo Picasso's Guernica.

In the West, people ask: Where is the Dickens, the Steinbeck for our era? I ask: Where is Naji al-Ali of India?

In 1987, al-Ali was shot in the head in London. He was not even 50 years old.

Michel Faber has reviewed a book on al-Ali-"A Child in Palestine : The Cartoons of Naji al-Ali"- for Guardian July 11, 2009.

Faber says about this picture: "...the pen stands upright, its nib doubling as a candle flame. It's a potently simple image, yet complex: the dripping wax suggests sorrowful tears; the pen's upright balance is perilously unsupported, like the Palestinian state itself; yet the backdrop of night sky, with its foully obscured moon, seems to reference the Amnesty International catchphrase about it being better to light a candle than curse the darkness..."

A child in the picture is figure of Hanthala/ Handala, the barefoot child who silently watches all the evils perpetrated in the Middle East.

What do we call a child who silently watches all the evils perpetrated in India? Has she been conceived yet? Will she look like Balkrishna from picture here?

"...Hanthala became phenomenally popular in the Arab world, spawning a Garfield-like industry of coffee mugs, T-shirts, keyrings, and so on. But instead of a spoilt fat cat, here was a ragged witness to atrocity and political betrayal."

I have put together a collage of al-Ali's caption-less pictures sourced from here. I didn't understand a few of them because they carry Arabic script in the captions.

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

Each of them is a gem. As Faber puts it: "awesomely sad and tender images"

What if Hanthala turned around and locked eyes with us? The thought is scary. I am not ready for it.

Why was Naji al-Ali (and Hanthala) killed?

"...Reportedly, he'd recently been warned by the PLO to "correct" his attitude to Yasser Arafat - a warning to which he responded by lampooning Arafat once more..."

A variation by me on G A Kulkarni's words quoted at the top:

"...चित्र म्हणजे निव्वळ हातचा वारा; त्यांना रक्त नाही की मांस नाही, पण एखाद्या चित्रकाराचे आत्मसमर्पण मनावर सतत आदळत राहिले तर त्याच्या रक्ताची अमर नक्षत्रे होतात, त्याच्या चित्रांत विश्वाचे हुंकार ऐकू येतात... "

("...Pictures are only wind from the hand; they have neither blood nor flesh, but if an artist's sacrifice keeps banging against mind then his pictures turn into immortal constellations, in his pictures we hear rumbles of the universe...")