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."

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Why do Maharashtra's Cartoonists Spare their Targets? Naji al-Ali, Ali Farzat...

Monica Osborne:

Germans may not have been aware of every aspect of Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jews and eliminate political dissenters, but they had an acute understanding of the diabolical nature of his vision, and instead of acting against it they sometimes laughed about it.

(review of 'Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany' by Rudolph Herzog)

I often feel that activists (and international celebrities) like Arundhati Roy are lucky when it comes to freedom of expression in India because the Indian state makes sure that they are not touched by anyone. They also are financially secure if not wealthy by Indian standards.

But when it comes to common man, he has to constantly look over his shoulder to write or say something that may ruffle feathers of fundamentalists of all hue in Maharashtra.

I am sure a few of Maharashtra's cartoonists feel the same way. They would have taken on these forces if they felt secured. The mock would have run amok. They would have drawn their targets panzers...err pants down.

On July 26 2009, I wrote about legendary Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali here who was shot dead on August 29, 1987.

Now The New York Times reports "Political Cartoonist Whose Work Skewered Assad Is Brutally Beaten in Syria":

"BEIRUT, Lebanon — Masked gunmen severely beat Syria’s best-known political cartoonist on Thursday, breaking his hand and leaving him to bleed on the side of a road in Damascus, activists said.

The attack came days after the artist, Ali Farzat, published a cartoon showing President Bashar al-Assad hitching a ride out of town with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, who was toppled from power this week..." (August 26, 2011)

The Guardian had rightly asked in July 2002:

"Favoured by Syria's new president (President Bashar al-Assad), Ali Farzat, leading cartoonist and popular newspaper publisher, seemed to have a licence to mock. Can it last?"

In India, many political and social activists have been attacked or even killed but luckily for cartoonists they seem to have been spared so far. Also, as said earlier, cartoonists too play safe.

I had not seen the work of Mr. Farzat. I saw it on Guardian's website.

The pictures are absolutely wonderful. Even those which I don't fully understand.

See one of them below.

On tele, 'Mushy Love in the time of Torture'? Look at the right foot and the right hand of the captive. They lie severed on the ground!

Absolutely gut-wrenching. Brings home the power of the cartoon as a medium.


Artist: Ali Farzat

From 'Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany' by Rudolph Herzog:

Jokes told by German Jews-

How many types of Jews are there? Two: optimists and pessimists. All the pessimists are in exile, and the optimists are in concentration camps.

The Gestapo is about to shoot some Jews when the commanding officer walks up to one of them and growls, “You almost look Aryan, so I’ll give you a chance. I wear a glass eye, but it’s not easy to tell. If you can guess which eye it is, I’ll let you go.” Immediately, the Jew answered, “The left one!” “How did you know?” asks the Gestapo commander. “It looks so human.”

Monica Osborne:

The Holocaust is a tale, among other things, of the most staggering breakdowns of ethical responsibility. Neighbors turned on neighbors, and people closed their eyes to atrocities committed on a daily basis—evil was everyday and commonplace, an idea that is critical to Herzog’s premise, which is that the jokes told in Nazi Germany by ordinary citizens reveal the extent to which they were also responsible for the terrors committed by Nazis on behalf of the state. Herzog is accurate in his assessment that when we laugh at Hitler, we “dismiss the metaphysical, demonic capabilities accorded to him by postwar apologists” and others who would have us believe that Hitler’s capacity for evil was not human. Laughing at Hitler might have been a way back to ethical responsibility, because inherent in the laugh is an acknowledgment of just how frightening the human capacity for evil can be.