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."

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm a respectable Social Democrat. I sort of like Pawar, Thackeray U, Chavan, Munde, or Thackeray R.

Dr. B R Ambedkar:

“Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic...

On the 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality...

..How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions?
How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If
we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril...”

In year c2009, India ranks 94th in the Global Hunger Index of 119 countries in 2009. More than 27% of the world’s undernourished population lives in India while 43% of children (under 5 years) in the country are underweight –much higher than sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 40% of growth ended up in the pockets of 1% of the population.

Sadanand Menon:

"So, more Indians go to bed hungry today than they did on the eve of Independence sixty two years ago. The per capita calorie intake, experts say, has dropped to what it was at the end of World War II..."

(Business Standard, September 18, 2009)

Maharashtra assembly elections are upon us and, thanks to content starved media, they have generated usual excitement.

Balmurli Natrajan writes:

"Indian Electoral Democracy: The Only Game in Town...

The all pervasive importance given to the electoral aspect of formal democracy in India hides the inefficacy of institutions of democracy and governance as they exist today. In some sense, elections are used as tools of legitimation by the ruling classes of policies that are inimical to the interests of the majority who vote...

...Elections in India generate feelings...what we will call “a feel-good” moment or story. But like all substances that claim to calm,this too wears out quickly. But until then some do feel good...

...the poor choose an option not from all possible options but from what is given to them and in the context of a set of interests and preferences that are shaped in the political cauldron of “group interests” and “identity” which are themselves functions of such varied factors as state policies, conditions of political-economy, and power.

Consider this – a recent survey by the Centre for Media Studies in Delhi reports that about 37% of people below the poverty line and about 22% of people belonging to the general category are bribed to cast their votes...

...Indian electors (and politicians) belong to a social belief system in which voting is the attempt to break a spell that has brought misery and bad luck upon them. For the poor (as it is for most of the so-called middle-classes too), a powerful person (rather than a brutal system) is what separates them from going to bed hungry or sustaining a vision of hope to survive another day. After all, every political analyst, popular and scholarly, has agreed that elections have become one of the biggest family businesses in India...

...Democracy in India is vibrant because the poor can vote out politicians. Is not this a cause to celebrate? This gets to my next point. It also reminds
me of Oscar Wilde’s quip: “We are all lying in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars.”

Elections are superbly useful legitimation tools since any first past the post winner can claim all kinds of “mandates” even on the slimmest majority and under the most undemocratic conditions for elections..."

(Economic & Political Weekly, July 18, 2009 vol xliv no 29)

Where does all this reflect in art? Where is a book like the one mentioned in para below? 'Mumbai Dinank' by Arun Sadhu ('मुंबई दिनांक', अरूण साधू) was a good attempt in Marathi in the past.

Bill Sheehan while reviewing 'BLOOD'S A ROVER' by James Ellroy:

"..."Blood's a Rover," like the volumes that precede it, is clearly not a conventional thriller. It is, rather, a rigorously constructed, idiosyncratic novel that uses the materials of crime fiction to examine the forces that have shaped -- and warped -- our recent history: racial tension, ideological warfare, greed, corruption and unbridled fanaticism in all its forms. Ellroy's bleak, brooding worldview, his dense, demanding style and his unflinching descriptions of extreme violence will almost certainly alienate large numbers of readers. But anyone who succumbs to the sheer tidal force of these novels will experience something darker, stranger and more compelling than almost anything else contemporary fiction has to offer..."

(The Washington Post, September 22, 2009)

Artist: James Stevenson, The New Yorker, 21 May 1960

When I see the picture above, I remember the following quote of Ingmar Bergman:

"I've a strong impression our world is about to go under. Our political systems are deeply compromised and have no further uses. Our social behavior patterns, interior and exterior, have proved a fiasco. The tragic thing is, we neither can nor want, nor have the strength, to alter our course. It's too late for revolutions, and deep down inside ourselves we no longer even believe in their positive effects. Just around the corner an insect world is waiting - and one day it's going to roll over our ultra-individualized existence. Otherwise, I'm a respectable Social Democrat."