मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

समर्थ शिष्या अक्का : "स्वामीच्या कृपाप्रसादे हे सर्व नश्वर आहे असे समजले. पण या नश्वरात तमाशा बहुत आहे."

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.”

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”

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);...”

सदानंद रेगे:
"... पण तुकारामाची गाथा ज्या धुंदीनं आजपर्यंत वाचली जात होती ती धुंदी माझ्याकडे नाहीय. ती मला येऊच शकत नाही याचं कारण स्वभावतःच मी नास्तिक आहे."
".. त्यामुळं आपण त्या दारिद्र्याच्या अनुभवापलीकडे जाऊच शकत नाही. तुम्ही जर अलीकडची सगळी पुस्तके पाहिलीत...तर त्यांच्यामध्ये त्याच्याखेरीज दुसरं काही नाहीच आहे. म्हणजे माणसांच्या नात्यानात्यांतील जी सूक्ष्मता आहे ती क्वचित चितारलेली तुम्हाला दिसेल. कारण हा जो अनुभव आहे... आपले जे अनुभव आहेत ते ढोबळ प्रकारचे आहेत....."

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, November 02, 2009

So oft in cultural wars, the disputants rail on in utter ignorance

John Godfrey Saxe's (1816-1887) poem on the famous Indian parable "The Blindmen and the Elephant" concludes like his:

"...And so these men of Hindustan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right
And all were in the wrong.

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!"

In 21st century Maharashtra, I see all around, men of Hindustan, first disputing loud and long, and then fighting 'theologic' and cultural wars, railing on in utter ignorance.

Vasant Sarwate's वसंत सरवटे cover of Lalit Diwali 2009 ललित दिवाळी is based on world famous M. C. Escher's woodcut print "Sky and Water I", first printed in June 1938.

The original print is reproduced at the end of my commentary and Sarwate's picture is embedded at the bottom of the post.

Wielding a sketch pen in one hand and a sword in the other, the artists in Sarwate's picture are ready to slit each other's throat to make their own perception prevail.

In fact, the sketch pens in their hands, which look more like spears than drawing instruments, seem so ferocious that they remind me of a chilling scene from Batman (1989) when the joker proves the adage "the pen is truly mightier than the sword"!

Killer weapons in their hands make a poignant comment on the current intolerant environment towards art (and artistic freedom) and history in Maharashtra.

No wonder Shiv Visvanathan observes: "Three great modernised societies in India — Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat — are deep in the throes of rightist groups who use bans as a way of sustaining politics."

(Some people say Bal Thackeray and Raj Thackeray are artists first and then politicos. I wonder if the two artists in the picture are them because both claim to understand "Marathi culture" better than the other.)

Have the artists from Sarwate's picture seen the "elephant"?

Commenting on his own picture Escher said: "In the horizontal center strip there are birds and fish equivalent to each other. We associate flying with sky, and so for each of the black birds the sky in which it is flying is formed by the four white fish which encircle it. Similarly swimming makes us think of water, and therefore the four black birds that surround a fish become the water in which it swims."

This print has been used in physics, geology, chemistry, and in psychology for the study of visual perception.

GILBERT ADAIR: "...M. C. Escher, the Dutch-born graphic artist whose images of endlessly diminishing birds, fish and lizards, the tiniest of them bunched up at the edges of the picture frame, constitute a remarkable approximation of the counter- intuitive results obtained by adding up an infinite series of fractions (e.g. 1+1/2+1/4+ 1/8+1/16 … equals not infinity but 2)..."

I guess it's the first time it has been used in a cartoon.

To appreciate full esthetic value of 'Sky and Water I', see a short film by National Film Board of Canada on youtube here.

Artist: M. C. Escher, "Sky and Water I", 1938

Artist: Vasant Sarwate, Lalit Diwali 2009 ललित दिवाळी

(notice Sarwate's use of colours instead of Escher's B & W, warrior on the left is made of curves and one of the right of straight lines, only top three rows have fish-water/bird-air...)

Click on the respective years to see Sarwate's covers of Lalit Diwali 2008 and 2007.