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."
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
"A great deal of waste, fraud and corruption went into the making of the modern American economy.”
"...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