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 13, 2009

Dilip Chitre and A Theory of Poetry

In September 2005, I wrote to Dilip Chitre:

"I recently came across "The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry" by Harold Bloom which you may well know about.

In this Bloom has likened the modern poet to Satan in Milton's 'Paradise Lost'.

Just as Satan fought to assert his individuality by defying the perfection of God, so must the modern poet engage in an Oedipal struggle to define himself in relation to Shakespeare, Dante and other masters.

The effort is ultimately futile because no poet can hope to approach, let alone surpass, the perfection of such forebears. Modern poets are all essentially tragic figures, latecomers.

Bloom's "strong poets" accept the perfection of their predecessors and yet strive to transcend it through various subterfuges, including a subtle misreading of the predecessors' work; only by so doing can modern poets break free of the stultifying influence of the past.

...I realized how well you have explained this in relation to Marathi literature. Surely Keshvsut, Balkavi are probably not even "latecomers" vis-a-vis Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar. And we struggle to define even Mardhekar and Kolatkar - "latecomers" or not even that?..."

Chitre replied:

"Several years ago (1970), I wrote a monograph on Milton for a Gujarati series of books---Parichay Pustakavali.

I interpreted Milton's epic there in relation with Milton's sympathy and support for Oliver Cromwell, suggesting him that Milton's Satan was a puritan republican rising against the very idea of monarchy.

Your letter reminded me of that.

Thank you for your generous words for my introduction to Punha Tukaram..."