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."
Sunday, September 11, 2011
"...the only genuine historical law is a law of irony."
“the first 9/11”: September 11, 1973, when the United States succeeded in its intensive efforts to overthrow the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile with a military coup that placed General Pinochet’s ghastly regime in office. The dictatorship then installed the Chicago Boys—economists trained at the University of Chicago—to reshape Chile’s economy. Consider the economic destruction, the torture and kidnappings, and multiply the numbers killed by 25 to yield per capita equivalents, and you will see just how much more devastating the first 9/11 was.
More than 30,000 people, nearly 10 times the number of those killed on 9/11, have died, and many centres of folk Islam destroyed, in terrorism-related attacks in Pakistan during the last decade of the war on terror. Yet Pakistan, a country with 170 million people, is little more than a shadowy battleground in the western imagination, a security and strategic imperative rather than an actual place with flesh-and-blood human beings and long histories.
"PERHAPS the greatest promise made after Sept. 11 by President George W. Bush and the British prime minister, Tony Blair, was that the West would no longer tolerate failed and failing states or extremism. Today there are more failed states than ever; Al Qaeda’s message has spread to Europe, Africa and the American mainland; and every religion and culture is producing its own extremists, whether in sympathy with Islamism or in reaction to it (witness the recent massacre in Norway)." (NYT, Sept 10 2011)
Like many other tragic events in my life, I vividly remember what I was doing when we saw first pictures of second 9/11 (of 2001) attacks on CNN.
First I thought it was an advertisement knowing Hollywood's penchant for disasters. It was surreal.
It kind of prepared us- TV viewers- for Mumbai attacks of 11/26.
TV was a big player in making 9/11 what it became.
And yet, on 9/11, there was no YouTube video, Facebook page, Twitter feed. Cellphone cameras did not exist.
Was it a good thing or bad?
DAVID FRIEND in WSJ on August 29 2011:
"In retrospect, one can only imagine how the assaults of 9/11 might have been absorbed and magnified in the age of the smartphone, WiFi and streaming video. How might the attacks have further traumatized us had the technology existed to allow real-time visualizations of the deaths of thousands of innocents? How differently might the international community have reacted—or might historians have judged the actions of al Qaeda—had workers, trapped inside the World Trade Center, used the cameras on their hand-held devices and computers to record scenes of atrocity and carnage, then beamed those photos and videos to their families?
Instead of a panoramic view of mass murder, witnessed from a distance, would we have seen individual lives extinguished one by one, and irrefutably, in the here and now? And to what end? How, one wonders, would we have handled such images, given the breadth of the horror and the unspeakable depth of the loss?"
This is very valid because even today it is eerie to watch reconstruction of events in a film like United 93. I get sick to my stomach thinking what if I were on that plane. Would I be an activist or just thinking alone about all those who gave me so much without expecting anything in return?
But life went on. Athough some of us didn't come across any weird jackets, we re-started laughing soon after 9/11.
Artist: Leo Cullum, The New Yorker, October 1 2001
(For more pictures of the late Mr. Cullum, visit http://www.cartoonbank.com/)
Bob Mankoff says about this picture:
"With the publication of Leo’s cartoon, our cartoonists could all exhale, catch their breaths, and try to do what they do best, make people laugh, not as a distraction from the times, but as a comic reframing to make them more tolerable."
Not much after Sept 11 2001, however, I knew this would not change anything very significantly. As always many people and businesses profited from this tragedy.
Woody Allen said it best:
"As a filmmaker, I'm not interested in 9/11 - it's too small, history overwhelms it. The history of the world is like: He kills me, I kill him, only with different cosmetics and different castings. So in 2001, some fanatics killed some Americans, and now some Americans are killing some Iraqis. And in my childhood, some Nazis killed Jews. And now, some Jewish people and some Palestinians are killing each other. Political questions, if you go back thousands of years, are ephemeral - not important. History is the same thing over and over again”
Frank Rich of The New York Times went even further:
"...We’ve rarely questioned our assumption that 9/11, “the day that changed everything,” was the decade’s defining event. But in retrospect it may not have been. A con like Tiger’s may be more typical of our time than a one-off domestic terrorist attack, however devastating.
Indeed, if we go back to late 2001, the most revealing news story may have been unfolding not in New York but Houston — the site of the Enron scandal. That energy company convinced financial titans, the press and countless investors that it was a business deity. It did so even though very few of its worshipers knew what its business was. Enron is the template for the decade of successful ruses that followed, Tiger’s included...."
And soon we were back to normal- hating everyone.
Artist: Bruce Eric Kaplan, The New Yorker, November 12 2001
(For more pictures of Mr. Kaplan, visit http://www.cartoonbank.com/)
Now twin towers are gone but we have towers of books on 9/11.
Courtesy: The Spectator, UK, Artist: ?????
Robert Mankoff of The New Yorker brought tears to my eyes in Sept 2011 while answering "Is there one image or scene that evokes that day (9/11) for you?":
"When I couldn’t get into the city, I went to see my mother in Queens. She was very old and very sick and dying, drifting between sleep and a drugged wakefulness. She had no idea what had happened. I turned the TV on and the buildings just kept falling over and over again. I explained how the towers had been destroyed, and this is what she said: “Thank God no one got hurt.” Ah, as if."
We may continue to avoid those buildings that "just keep falling over and over again" but when James Thurber observed that we couldn't escape "the inevitable doom that waits in the skies", he did not mean enormous, fuel-laden, crashing jumbo jets of 9/11!