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.”
Albert Einstein: “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.” (To P. Moos, March 30, 1950. Einstein Archives 60-587)
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: "… इ. स. 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."
Monday, November 16, 2009
Michael Crichton: "Because the past is the only alternative to the corporate present."
Margaret Visser: “Gratitude is always a matter of paying attention, of deliberately beholding and appreciating the other.”
"This is the generation (born between 1955 and 1985), which has bequeathed to the world reality television, the cult of the celebrity, first-person confessional journalism and the mass hysterical emoting at the funerals of people they have never met, let alone known. I suppose, if we were to grope for a reason, we might say that it was the first generation for a very long time which lived without the depredations of war and thus the prospect of imminent death; which threw off the notion of a higher authority than itself and was schooled in the art of self-expression rather than the acquisition of knowledge."
In Indian context, we could say: it was the first generation for a very long time which lived without the fear of hunger and thus the prospect of death by starvation.
The past week belonged to media frenzy on completion of twenty years by Sachin Tendulkar in international cricket. (I still vividly remember his first day.)
They say Sachin Tendulkar is very humble despite being the richest cricketer in the history of the game.
Maybe he is.
But humility is not just about how you treat your servants, the words you choose or your body language.
It is also about how you show respect for the absent, for the past.
Last week news television (led by The Times of India's and Times NOW's Boria Majumdar) showed no respect to the absent or the past.
Michael Crichton sums up neatly:
"...Jennifer had no interest in the past; she was one of the new generation that understood that gripping television was NOW, events happening NOW, a flow of images in a perpetual unending electronic present. Context by its very nature required something more than NOW, and her interest did not go beyond NOW. Nor, she thought, did anyone else's. The past was dead and gone. Who cared what you ate yesterday? What you did yesterday? What was immediate and compelling was NOW.
And television at its best was NOW..."
When anchor after anchor kept telling Tendulkar how he was the greatest of them all, I never heard Tendulkar saying that perhaps Don Bradman, Garry Sobers, Sunil Gavaskar, Wasim Akram or Kapil Dev and a few more were greater cricketers than him.
...that Dhyan Chand and Viswanathan Anand were the greatest sportsmen India produced.
...that since his debut in November 1989, India has not won either an ODI world-cup or a tournament like Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket.
...that India has still not beaten Australia and South Africa, in a test series, on their own turfs, and although India beat West Indies in a Test series on his watch, he was not part of that squad. (He was a member of the Test teams that beat Pakistan-first time in history of Indian cricket- and England on their own soils.)
...that back then there were no helmets and fancy protective gears and/or batsmen played on uncovered wickets and/or bowlers followed back-foot no-ball rule.
...that since there were no ODI's earlier, the interviewer should compare another cricket player's first-class record against his own first-class record. Also please note that Jack Hobbs was cricket's most prolific batsman because, in 29 years, he scored 61,237 first-class runs and 197 centuries.
...that his predecessors found motivation to compete fiercely and risk their lives (remember Nari Contractor or Jimmy Amarnath or neighbour Eknath Solkar at forward-short-leg without helmet?) even though there was hardly any money to be made by playing.
He should have said any/all of this even if he didn't mean it.
Instead his expressions reminded me of the late Om Prakash from a scene in 'Chupke Chupke'(1975) where Dharmendra praises him, comparing him to 'naya dulha' Amitabh Bachchan.
I understand that Tendulkar doesn't have a gift of gab like Sunil Gavaskar but he surely could have tried.
Read here how Gary Lineker appreciates Diego Maradona.
Read here how Michael Atherton bids farewell to Muttiah Muralitharan.
Read Sunil Gavaskar's book "Idols".
Read Garry Kasparov's series of books "My Great Predecessors".
Listen to Kumar Gandharva's tribute to Bal Gandharva: "Mala umajalele Bal Gandharva".
Graham Greene on how he compares with the past masters:
"Well, there is no such thing as success. The priest can't hope to become a saint- or else it's an illusory dream which vanishes with time; the writer can't hope to write a book equal those of Tolstoy, Dickens or Balzac. He might have dared to believe in the possibility at the outset, but his books always carry a flaw somewhere."
('The Other Man: Conversations with Graham Greene', Marie-Francoise Allain,1981)
‘Own up, Narcissus, you’re responsible for this graffiti, aren’t you?’