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.”
Albert Einstein: “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.” (To P. Moos, March 30, 1950. Einstein Archives 60-587)
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: "… इ. स. 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."
Thursday, August 04, 2011
History is thought of largely in nationalist terms, and such things as the Inquisition, the tortures of the Star Chamber, the exploits of the English buccaneers (Sir Francis Drake, for instance, who was given to sinking Spanish prisoners alive), the Reign of Terror, the heroes of the Mutiny blowing hundreds of Indians from the guns, or Cromwell's soldiers slashing Irishwomen's faces with razors, become morally neutral or even meritorious when it is felt that they were done in the 'right' cause.
Instead of recognizing the importance of apocalyptic thinking, Mr. Landes argues, we prefer to posit a common-sense world in which grand flights of imagination are construed as outbursts of misguided enthusiasm. Most historians, he says, make the same mistake. They view apocalyptic prophecy as a kind of falsified madness that leaves little of importance behind.
In fact, Mr. Landes says, the whole texture of our lives is deeply affected by our response to both past apocalyptic beliefs and current millennial aspirations. Nor is apocalyptic frenzy limited to the religious sphere. It also underlies the secular world of seemingly common-sense understanding. (WSJ, July 28 2011)
Ramachandra Guha's book "Makers of Modern India" was recently published.
It profiles nineteen Indians whose ideas, according to the author, had a defining impact on the formation and evolution of our Republic.
Here are my nineteen who were borne 1800 CE or later and whose ideas and actions, ahead of others, have a defining impact on the state of Indian union today:
(Names are not in any order. And I defy anyone who says history is progress.)
1. Lord Macaulay
2. B G Tilak
3. M K Gandhi
4. Rabindranath Tagore
5. M A Jinnah
6. B R Ambedkar
7. J L Nehru
8. M S Golvilkar
9. Indira Gandhi
10. L K Advani
11. V P Singh
12. Dhirubhai Ambani
13. Raj Kapoor
14. M. G. Ramachandran
16. C. Subramaniam
17. Rajesh Khanna
18. Manmohan Singh
19. Sachin Tendulkar
And remember, like Mr. Gridley in the picture below that is now 78-year old but remains brilliant, whether best-selling historians or ordinary bloggers, they put too much of themselves into 'it'!
Artist: Leonard Dove, The New Yorker, July 29 1933