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.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

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, December 31, 2010

Escape: Shel Silverstein's Papillon and GA's Swami

From B S Mardhekar's (बा. सी. मर्ढेकर) following poem:

भरून येइल ह्रुदय जेधवां
शरीर पिळुनी निघेल घाम;
अन् शब्दांच्या तोंडांमध्यें
बसेल तूझा गच्च लगाम;

काळयावरतीं जरा पांढ़रें
ह्या पाप्याच्या हातुन व्हावें
फक्त तेधवां : आणि एरव्हीं
हेंच पांढऱ्या वरतीं काळे!,

I am always fascinated by these words:

"अन् शब्दांच्या तोंडांमध्यें / बसेल तूझा गच्च लगाम;" (I never had any ambition of Mardhekar that is reflected in 'काळयावरतीं जरा पांढ़रें / ह्या पाप्याच्या हातुन व्हावें'. Also not sure what BSM achieved in that regard!)

For many years in my childhood at Miraj, I observed tongas (light horse-drawn carriage) and, more intently, horses that pulled them. The leash sat so tight...not to mention the whip that lashed...गच्च लगाम. (One of the most interesting activities then was watching nailing of horseshoes to the horses and bullocks.)

But then there is always a hope of freedom...Hope springs eternal.

Following is one of the greatest cartoons I have seen. I can see it everyday and still be amused by it.

Descend your eyes from the top to the bottom of the picture.

The cell resembles the space described in G A Kulakrni's (जी ए कुलकर्णी ) "Swami" (स्वामी) where the head of the sect is held forcibly and a kingdom rules in his name outside.

As G A describes the prison cell- read that at the end of this para- one thinks the Swami has no hope in hell of escaping or even committing suicide. Despite that the Swami fights back. Some opium has been hidden by the previous unfortunate inmate of the cell. Swami unearths it and dies eating it. He chooses to die as he lets another life, a weed, choke the only air-inlet pipe on its journey to the sunlight.


(open this picture in another window and then enlarge to read the text)

Shel Silverstein's Papillon is more ingenious. He has thought of a plan to escape. Alive.


Artist: Shel Silverstein, 1950s

Wiki informs: Silverstein was both fascinated and distressed by the amount of analysis and commentary that almost immediately began to swirl around the cartoon. "A lot of people said it was a very pessimistic cartoon, which I don't think it is at all," he said. "There's a lot of hope even in a hopeless situation..."

Indeed, Sir. Here's looking at 2011!

10 comments:

Chetan said...

This was a very nice post. I loved Swami when I had read it and wondered how Kafkaesque it was. (I liked Pinglavel as a collection much more than Kaajalmaya. I think GA's views (philosophy) comes across much more crisply in the stories from Pinglavel. While Kaajalmaya stories seem a little scattered, not too tightly woven.)

I was slightly disappointed when I read that G A was influenced a lot by Kafka. I would have preferred not knowing this bit of information. It is much more romantic to assume that two writers from entirely different backgrounds and brought up in distinct cultures can think of and create a very similar world.

I had read Papillon a long time back. It seemed very exiting that time especially since it was advertised as a real tale. Later I found out that Henri Charriere had exaggerated a lot and many parts of the novel are fictional. In light of this knowledge, it almost seems like a James Bond kind of a fantasy in prison world.

Moral of the story: Never let facts come in the way of appreciating fiction. :)

Happy New Year to you!

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Thanks Chetan for your comment after a long time. Yogesh Joshi told me about you last month. I told him you are "formidable".

You are right- I too don't like Kajalmaya as much PV.

I did not know that "G A was influenced a lot by Kafka".

Actually if you read his letters written to hundreds of people, (including one of them to me!), you will find he acknowledges many writers as "influences". Almso none of them Indian!

I think he is influenced most by the world view of classical Greek literature.

Your wish "It is much more romantic to assume that two writers from entirely different backgrounds and brought up in distinct cultures can think of and create a very similar world" in case of GA is romantic.

I think his literature is deeply influenced by the West: literature and other art forms.

Therefore, I feel, he misses out on classical Eastern tradition which is not always rooted in realism but freely uses fantasy, magic, (like Papillon?) among others.

Happy new year to you too!

Chetan said...

Thanks. Yogesh is a good friend. He told me about his conversation with you.

I found the information about Kafka and GA from one of his letters to Madhav Achwal. http://www.gakulkarni.info/letters/madhav.html

You might like reading that.

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Thanks for the info. I read it.

But I am not sure that qualifies for "influence".

Chetan said...

Probably 'influenced a lot' is a stretch. I take that back.

However, I think the very fact that he had read Kafka and many of his stories incorporate and exploit claustrophobic environs combined with a suffocation of free will resulting from elements that are not under the protagonist's control, point to a strong affinity and identification with Kafka's worldview.

As an aside there is a German book by Milind Brahme which is a comparative study of Kafka and GA Kulkarni. I had come across it when I had googled Kafka and GA together to check if anyone else had felt that the two wrote on similar themes.

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Thanks again.

I would still say that "suffocation of free will resulting from elements that are not under the protagonist's control," is Greek tragedy/ Schopenhauer playing out rather than Kafka.

Chetan said...

Unfortunately, I haven't read Schopenhauer not am I intimately acquainted with Greek tragedy apart from outline information about Iliad and Odessey. Hence the inadvertant misattribution.

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Funnily. GA himself has never said something like this directly:

"My writing is deeply influenced by Greek classics."

Maybe he didn't wish to give it away so easily the key to his workings!

अवधूत - Avadhoot said...

Nice piece. The cartoon resembles to the "No Exit" situation.
Thanks.

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Thanks Avadhoot.