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: "… 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."
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Twain knew that he was dead because like Alfred Nobel and Ernest Hemingway, he had the chance to read about it in the newspapers!
He of course was not afraid of it: "I do not fear death, in view of the fact that I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."
What kind of childhood he had?
Ferdinand Mount: “Decayed gentility and a feckless father. These make the springiest springboard for the angry artist. Dickens, Picasso, Joyce, Shaw, Francis Bacon all enjoyed these unsung advantages in life. So did Samuel Langhorne Clemens who called himself Mark Twain”
Twain never received the Nobel. So much for the importance of the prize! He probably was the author of the first typewritten manuscript ever submitted to a publisher.
Abut Indians, Mark Twain says: "It is a curious people. With them, all life seems to be sacred except human life."
('Following the Equator; a Journey Around the World', 1897)
Twain saw humanity's future very clearly when he said: "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.”
He took very dim view of our civilization: “We are nothing but echoes, we have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own, we are but a compost heap made up of decayed heredities, moral and physical.”
In one of the funniest passages I have read, reminding me where I am heading, Twain describes how fickle human memory could be:
"I used to remember my brother Henry walking into a fire outdoors when he was a week old. It was remarkable in me to remember a thing like that and it was still more remarkable that I should cling to the delusion for thirty years that I did remember it -- for of course it never happened; he would not have been able to walk at that age. . . . For many years I remembered helping my grandfather drinking his whiskey when I was six weeks old but I do not tell about that any more now; I am grown old and my memory is not as active as it used to be. When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened."
100 years on , what is happening to Twain's US of A?
Lucy Ellmann says:
“What the hell is going on? The country that produced Melville, Twain and James now venerates King, Crichton, Grisham, Sebold and Palahniuk. Their subjects? Porn, crime, pop culture and an endless parade of out-of-body experiences. Their methods? Cliché, caricature and proto-Christian morality. Props? Corn chips, corpses, crucifixes. The agenda? Deceit: a dishonest throwing of the reader to the wolves. And the result? Readymade Hollywood scripts..."
Jonah Raskin says: "...The anniversary of his death provides an occasion to reappraise his work and rethink his life. Fortunately, critics and biographers have been sifting through Twain's published writings and rummaging through his archives. A half dozen new books delve deeply and from nearly every possible angle into perhaps our most profoundly divided writer..."
Two of the greatest Marathi writers, Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar 1871-1934 (श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर) and C V Joshi (चि वि जोशी ) were deeply influenced by Twain and Kolhatkar surely was as talented as him.
I just finished reading 'eka snehabandhachi gosht' (एका स्नेहबंधाची गोष्ट) edited by Dr. Anjali Soman (संपादक डॉ अंजली सोमण), 2005. The book is based on postal correspondence between Kolhatkar and Anandibai Shirke (आनंदीबाई शिर्के) from Dec 17 1913 to April 21 1934.
By some strange coincidence, like Twain but not on that scale, as per the book, Kolhatkar too had financial problems. He became a farmer to overcome them. From a few of his distressed letters to Ms. Shirke, you begin to understand what it meant to be a small farmer in Vidarbha. (I plan to return to this book a few more times. BTW- The photo of Ms. Shirke in the book alone is worth the price of the book!)
The Times of India reported on Mar 28, 2010:
"Nine more farmers in Vidarbha region of Maharshtra committed suicide in the last 24 hours. This takes the toll of farmers’ suicides to 19 in the last one week and 194 this year, claimed Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti — an NGO keeping track on farmers’ suicides since 1997..."
Looks like, in some important aspects, little seems to have changed since 1934!
Will Kolhatkar's 100th death anniversary celebrate his work as much as Twain's? Even one new critical book on his art, reissue of all of Kolhatkar's books and G D Khanolkar's (गं दे खानोलकर) biography of him will do.
I doubt it.
Artist: Joseph Keppler, Puck magazine, 1885