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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Will Jayant Narlikar One Day Write Marathi Sceptical Essays?

John Gray:"Science fiction was once driven by a faith in human ability to change the world. These days, the genre seeks to expose the illusions of everyday life."

I have enormous respect for Jayant Narlikar (जयंत नारळीकर).

I have most of his Marathi books (a few of them little boring). I read whatever I come across written by him.

He has been a great science popularizer in Marathi and has led a campaign against superstitions and astrology. He has proven himself to be an institution builder and is famous as much for his integrity and honesty as his science.

He is humble and reportedly lives a simple life.

He has appeared on this blog a few times earlier.

Narlikar has started writing for The Asian Age. His first article there appeared on April 28 2010 on the subject of The Large Hadron Collider(LHC).

Narlikar is irritated by the media hype created by LHC and wonders if stands for 'large hype creator'.
He is right. Even Marathi news channels go into tizzy talking about LHC.

Will people in media ever behave differently because of Narlikar's essays?

I have been reading 'Sceptical Essays' by Bertrand Russell. John Gray has written a preface to it.

Gray says of Russell: "...As reformed he believed reason could save the world. As a sceptical follower of Hume he knew reason could never be more than the slave of the passions. Sceptical Essays was written as a defence of rational doubt. Today we read it as a confession of faith, the testament of a crusading rationalist who doubted the power of reason."

(As I said earlier, Vinda's 'Ashtadarshane' (अष्टदर्शने),2003 remains moth-eaten without David Hume.)

Electronic media is a business where passions masquerade as facts. Reason can never trump passions there.

The next question is: Will readers of Narlikar behave differently?

Narlikar has often expressed his unhappiness (disgust?) over continued popularity of pseudoscience of astrology. (At Miraj, where our next door neighbour was an astrologer, I witnessed how even very poor people went to him to seek divine intervention for very complex problems in their lives.)

John Gray says:"...As a sceptical philosopher, Russell knew that science could not make humanity more rational, for science is itself the product of irrational beliefs..."

In Russell's own words:"...The great scandals in the philosophy of science ever since the time of Hume have been causality and induction. We all believe in both, but Hume made it appear that our belief is a blind faith for which no rational ground can be assigned..."

Do those who believe in astrology innately know this?

Not everyone believes in Joseph Conrad's (or G A Kulkarni's जी. ए. कुलकर्णी) sceptical fatalism.

And even if they do, some of them probably still try astrology - like prayer or voodoo- as a last ditch effort to control their fate.

People have always danced to the tune of miracle, mystery and authority. Religion provides them.

And so do many others like LHC.


Artist: Stan Hunt, The New Yorker, July 28 1986