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, October 28, 2010

Leo Cullum, I think I'd never laugh again. Then I'll see your drawings...

Adam Philips: 'The world without the people who matter to us is not the same world and so not the world at all. Life becomes progressively stranger as we get older - and we become increasingly frantic to keep it familiar, to keep it in order - because people keep changing the world for us by dying out.'

Leo Cullum whose pictures gave me great joy died on Oct 23 2010 at the age of 68. To see many of his cartoons, please visit The Cartoon Bank of New Yorker here.

68 is a dreaded number for me because my mother too died at that age. These days my vanished world is divided between those who die at or before 68 and those who die later.

In 2008-09, I attempted writing a caption for six of his cartoons as a part of The New Yorker's “Cartoon Caption Contest”. You can find those efforts on this blog.

I thought his pictures were like deceptively simple puzzles. Visually very funny, they tickled me...I would start smiling just looking at the 'frog' eyes of his characters...I thought the caption would now just pour out of me.

It didn't.

I didn't know how Mr. Cullum looked. I thought he looked like one of his own characters. For instance, like either of them below.

(courtesy: The New Yorker)

I wish he did. But he didn't. I discovered that on Oct 26 2010.

(courtesy: David Strick and The New York Times)


"...In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Cullum managed the delicate feat of finding humor when the prevailing national mood was black. The issue of The New Yorker that came out immediately after the attacks carried no cartoons, but Mr. Cullum’s was the first cartoon that the magazine’s readers saw the following week..." (The New York Times, Oct 25 2010)

(courtesy: The New Yorker)

Marathi humorist P L Deshpande (पु ल देशपांडे) has written how a radio interviewer laughed when Pu La talked about his aunt's death. When Deshpande asked how he could laugh about her death, the interviewer laughed some more!

Such is the life of a clown.

And perhpas a cartoonist.

"...In 1966 he was sent to Vietnam, where he flew 200 missions, most in support of ground-troop operations, but at one point he flew secret bombing runs over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. “Who these were secret from I’m still not sure,” Mr. Cullum told Holy Cross magazine in 2006. “The North Vietnamese certainly knew it wasn’t the Swiss bombing them.”..."