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."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Persistence of Memory. Vasant Sarwate style!

The late J G Ballard called the late Salvador Dali the greatest painter of the 20th century.

About following painting, Ballard says:

"...Dalí's masterpiece and, I believe, the greatest painting of the 20th century is The Persistence of Memory, a tiny painting not much larger than the postcard version, containing the age of Freud, Kafka and Einstein in its image of soft watches, an embryo and a beach of fused sand. The ghost of Freud presides over the uterine fantasies that set the stage for the adult traumas to come, while insects incarnate the self-loathing of Kafka's Metamorphosis and its hero turned into a beetle. The soft watches belong to a realm where clock time is no longer valid and relativity rules in Einstein's self-warping continuum.

What monster would grow from this sleeping embryo? It may be the long eyelashes, but there is something feminine and almost coquettish about this little figure, and I see the painting as the 20th century's Mona Lisa, a psychoanalytic take on the mysterious Gioconda smile. If the Mona Lisa, as someone said, looks as if she has just dined on her husband, then Dalí's embryo looks as if she dreams of feasting on her mother..."


Artist: Salvador Dali, 'The Persistence of Memory', 1931

When I was growing up, smuggling was a very popular profession in India. Watch any number of Hindi films of the period.

I remember my shock and disbelief on hearing about a young and handsome son of a very famous Brahmin family in Miraj being a gold smuggler.

Gold was not the only commodity that was popular among them. Watches came close second. Seiko, Riko(?), Casio were some of the popular brands. (Even in September 2003- Smuggled watches account for between 50 and 75 per cent of annual sales in the country.)

Surely when watches were smuggled via sea route some consignments didn't reach the shore safely. In those cases, watches swam, the way oil from the recent oil-spill did, to arrive.

One of the first things I noticed in Mumbai, where Sarwate lives, was how even in very plush residential areas clothes- even undergarments- were dried hanging outside an apartment. I wonder if there also was an odd embryo lurking!

Now see below what Vasant Sarwate creates.

He imagines what could be a reaction of viewing public in 1970's and 1980's to Dali's painting.


(double-click on the picture to get a larger view)

Caption reads: "just some smuggled stuff thrown in water! Being dried..."

Artist: Vasant Sarwate, Year-?, sourced from his book "The Best of Sarwate" editor: Avadhoot Paralkar, Lokvangmay Gruh 2008

वसंत सरवटे "सरवोत्तम सरवटे" संपादक: अवधूत परळकर, लोकवाङ्मय गृह 2008

p.s I had forgot about this cartoon of Sarwate. When I was showing him a book containing Dali's paintings once at our place, he spoke about it.