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."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Pu Shi Rege, a Yaksha, Leads Upward and On

Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे) spoke very warmly about him in November 2009 when he visited us.

Ashok Shahane says: "...imposed dejection has not touched his poems." [Napeksha, 2005] (अशोक शहाणे: "...बळजबरीने लादल्या गेलेल्या निराशेचा ह्यांच्या कवितेला स्पर्शही झालेला नाही." [नपेक्षा])

I am talking about Pu Shi Rege (पु शि रेगे) whose birth centenary falls next year.

(btw- Year 2009-10 is rich with centenaries. Watch this space for my favourites Baburao Arnalkar बाबूराव अर्नाळकर, N G Kalelkar ना गो कालेलकर & D K Bedekar दि के बेडेकर to make maiden and Durga Bhagwat दुर्गा भागवत & Setu Madhavrao Pagadi सेतु माधवराव पगडी to make one more appearance on this blog.)

I have just finished reading, for the first time, his novella 'Matruka' (मातृका),1978.

I found it quite good, certainly the part that takes place in India i.e. first 39 of 70 chapters spanning 80 of 136 pages.

I wish I read it in my adolescence. Very sensuous. In any case, for me: a cigar is never just a cigar!

Vilas Sarang (विलास सारंग) has written an excellent but not very favourable review of it in two essays that are included in his book: 'aksharaanchaa shram kelaa', 2000 (अक्षरांचा श्रम केला). (Sarang has helped me a lot in my quest to access literature. Some of it has already appeared on this blog earlier. More will come later.)

Rege's dedication reads:

"Das Ewig-Weibliche
Zieht uns hinan."
Goethe, Faust II

Thanks to Google, I now know the meaning:

"Eternal womanhood
Leads upward and on."

D G Godse (द ग गोडसे) wrote an essay on Pu Shi Rege after his death: '...Ek Yaksha' (...एक यक्ष), included in his book 'Nangi Asalele Phulpapharu' (नांगी असलेले फुलपाखरू), 1989. (Read more about Godse's book here.)

Godse and Rege worked together on the team that produced Marathi magazine Chhand (छंद) which was dedicated to the subject of arts. Like most Marathi magazines, it died long ago.

Going by Godse's description of how a typical issue of Chhand was produced, it must have been exhilarating stuff...reminding us of what John Maynard Keynes has said: "...nothing mattered except states of mind... timeless, passionate states of contemplation...one's prime objects in life were love, the creation and enjoyment of aesthetic experience and the pursuit of knowledge. Of these, love came a long way first...We were among the last of the Utopians...we repudiated all versions of original sin...”

Godse thought Rege was a Yaksha who inhabited the earth for a few years before he went back to his abode...to once again return to the earth.

"...ते एक यक्ष आहेत. यक्ष गंधर्वांची सवेंदनक्षमता अशी सूक्ष्म असते असे म्हणतात. बांध्याने स्थूल पण तेवढेच चपळ. आकाराने ठस-ठोम्बस तेवढेच सूक्ष्म... आणि सालस, भाबडे तेवढेच मिश्किल. लेण्यांतून तथागतांच्या अथवा देवाधिदेवांच्या भोवताली असलेल्या गर्दीतून हळूच डोकवाणारे. कधी आकाशातून पुष्पवृष्टी करणारे, कधी कमलनाल तर कधी चवरी धरलेले, कधी मृदंग घुमाविणारे तर कधी वीणा छेडणारे. कधी भीक्कूंच्या मेळाव्यात तर कधी शिवगणांच्या गर्दीत. असे हरकामी आणि बहुरूपी. स्वछंदी आणि अनंतफंदी! लेणी पाहताना सहसा त्यांच्याकडे कोणाचे लक्ष जात नाही, पण जवळ जाऊन न्याहाळले तर त्यांचे अनोखे मिश्किल व्यक्तिमत्व चटकन मनात भरते.

आज वाटते, याच यक्ष-गन्धर्व-विद्याधरांतला एक काही वर्षे आमच्यात राहून परत आपल्या लेण्यात गेला...कधी काळी पुन्हा परत येण्याकरिता."

Although, I have embedded this beautiful image of a Yaksha here, I wish I did better.

Godse's essay talks about the portrait he did of Rege. The portrait apparently hung very proudly in Rege's house for a number of years. I don't know if I will ever get to see it.

'Matruka''s back-cover carries Rege's photo. The image reinforces Godse's contention of his resemblance to Yaksha but I wish it carried Godse's portrait instead.

Do we love our artists enough?