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."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Can you concentrate on Poetry when Breasts of the hostess are Apocalyptic?

I remember sketchily incident narrated by poet the late Dom Moraes in an article (in Imprint magazine or Sunday Observer? Both now defunct).

He once went on a boat cruise with Richard Burton and his wife Elizabeth Taylor. The occasion was a poetry recitation session. Mr. Burton observed that, hopefully, unlike most present there, Mr. Moraes was more interested in poetry than looking at his wife's teats! (I couldn't access the exact quote of Mr. Moraes. My apologies if it differs a lot from my paraphrasing of it.)

Mr. Burton himself once described Ms. Taylor’s breasts as “apocalyptic.”

He would write to Elizabeth well into their marriage. “You don't realize of course E. B. how fantastically beautiful you have always been, and how strangely you have acquired an added and special and dangerous loveliness. Your breasts jutting out from that half-asleep languid lingering body, the remote eyes, the parted lips.”

Reading this, I am sure, it must have been hard to concentrate on poetry, even for Mr. Moraes.

But there was a lot more to Ms. Taylor than just breasts. I thought she was a very good actor.

For me, she becomes Maggie in Tennessee Williams's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". Her voice disturbs me deeply at a fundamental level. Then, I stop looking at her breasts.

An iconic shot of Taylor splashing in the ocean, from the set of Suddenly Last Summer (1959). Vanity Fair used this image for the July 2010 cover.

© Sunset Boulevard/Corbis.