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."

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