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."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Would M N Srinivas be a happy man today?

T. J. Jackson Lears in "Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920" (2009):

"A great deal of waste, fraud and corruption went into the making of the modern American economy.”

George Santayana


"...of course there is no probability that a reaction against material progress should set in in the near future, since as yet the tide of commercialism and population continues everywhere to rise; but does any thoughtful man suppose that these tendencies will be eternal and that the present experiment in civilisation is the last the world will see?

If social democracy, however, refused to diminish labour and wealth and proposed rather to accelerate material progress and keep every furnace at full blast, it would come face to face with a serious problem. By whom would the product be enjoyed? By those who created it? What sort of pleasures, arts, and sciences would those grimy workmen have time and energy for after a day of hot and unremitting exertion?"


I am thoroughly incompetent to judge a lot of that goes on around me in the world of politics. But I try to follow wise people who I think were/are saner.

M N Srinivas
(1916–1999), one of the greatest social scientists India produced:

"To recapitulate, in-discussing changing values in India today my approach has been that of an empirically-minded sociologist. But I am also a citizen, and an individual with my own preferences, values, if you like.

On the institutional side, I think that people's movements are essential to set right the many ills that infest the body social of which body politic is a vital part. People's movements are indispensable to lessen corruption in Indian public life, to see that development plans do not destroy the environment, to ensure gender equality, to promote decentralisation of power, and to combat growing consumerism. People's movements are needed particularly to teach elected representatives that real power in a democracy rests with the people, and that errant, corrupt or perverse governments will not be tolerated.

The tendency to autocracy is so deep at the state and lower levels that periodical elections are not enough to curb autocracy. People's movements might provide the necessary curb but they need time to be built up given the fact that the electorate is poor, uneducated and local leaders are bribable. Perhaps institutions
such as recall may be necessary to make leaders more responsive to public opinion..."

(first published Economic and Political Weekly, May 8 1993- Now part of 'Social Change in Modern India', Orient Black Swan, 2010)

On a lighter note: When I heard that Anna Hazare had refused to leave Tihar jail on August 16 2011, I was reminded of this very funny cartoon which has already appeared on this blog here.

Artist: Dana Fradon, The New Yorker, April 6 1963