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."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Waiting for Marathi's Joseph Conrad. Atleast another Vijay Tendulkar.

Until recently we had Vijay Tendulkar (विजय तेंडुलकर) who created 'Ghashiram Kotwal' (घाशीराम कोतवाल) in 1972 to show what havoc totalitarianism wreaks on civil society and how the government of the day creates and encourages such forces for self preservation.

(btw- Nana Phadanvis (नाना फडणवीस) 1742-1800 'the government of the day' in 'Ghashiram', adjusted for inflation, was probably as wealthy as the richest politician of Maharashtra today.)

Since 1993, terrorism has joined totalitarianism in Maharashtra.

Where do we stand today?

Loksatta, February 12 2010:

"...Today if a Marathi speaker goes to any other part of India, he would feel embarrassed. Other Indians get a picture of Maharashtra where only rowdyism, bullyism, gangsterism, terrorism and uncontrolled land-grabbing is going on. Earlier the images that were evoked when the word 'Bihar' was pronounced are now evoked by the word 'Maharashtra'..."

(लोकसत्ता: "...आज देशाच्या कोणत्याही भागात कुणीही मराठी माणूस गेला तरी त्याला अतिशय संकोच वाटावा, अशी स्थिती आहे. महाराष्ट्रात फक्त राडेबाजी, दादागिरी, खंडणीबाजी, दहशतबाजी आणि बेसुमार भूखंडबाजी चालू आहे असेच चित्र अन्य भारतीयांना दिसते. पूर्वी ‘बिहार’ हा शब्द उच्चारला तरी ज्या प्रतिमा डोळ्यासमोर येत, तशा आता ‘महाराष्ट्र’ हे नाव उच्चारले तरी येतात...")

Is this all reflected in Marathi literature?

Sure, there have been few attempts but nothing is even close to 'Ghashiram Kotwal' let alone Conrad's writings. (G A Kulkarni जी. ए. कुलकर्णी 1923-1987 was inspired by Conrad. But he didn't write any 'political' stuff.)

In English?

John Gray:

"...It is no accident that nothing approaching a great political novel appeared in the last decades of the 20th century...It is a telling fact about the closing decades of the 20th century that the closest approximation to a notable political novel was probably The Bonfire of the Vanities.

Conrad is our contemporary because, almost alone among 19th- and 20th-century novelists, he writes of the realities in which we live. At bottom, we know the dilemmas we face are not wholly soluble; but we prefer not to dwell on that. In order to avoid ethnic and religious enmities interacting with the rising scarcity of oil, water and other necessities, we need a worldwide programme of restraint and conservation; but such a programme is difficult to imagine at the best of times, and impossible while crucial regions of the world are at war. The realistic prospect is that the most we can do is stave off disaster - a task that demands stoicism and fortitude, not the utopian imagination. Which other novelist can school us so well in these forgotten virtues?

Conrad's greatness is that, by an art of enchantment, he brings us back to our actual life...

...It falls to a novelist without much faith in the power of reason to enlighten us how to live reasonably in these circumstances..."

'Waiting for Twin Bodies'

February 15 2010; Location: Outside of Morgue of Sassoon Hospital, Pune