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."

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Where did Primal Couple of Paradise go to Stool?

I read Nicholas Lezard's review of "A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary" by Voltaire, translated by John Fletcher in Guardian, November 15 2011.

It says:

"...In the essay with the marvellous title "All Is Good" he cites a Syrian creation myth which tells how the primal couple, dwelling in Paradise, decide to eat cake instead of ambrosia and, suddenly needing to "go to the stool" (this is an earthy book) are directed by an angel to a tiny planet which is "the privy for the entire universe". "They went there and never came back," writes Voltaire, "and since then the world has been the way it is.""

On that not-so-tiny-planet, where exactly did they go?

No prizes for guessing...20 00 N, 77 00 E...region now called India.

The Times of India had this on October 2 2011:

"With India accounting for 58 per cent of all open defecations in the world, the government on Sunday sought active involvement of all parties concerned including women panchayat representatives to sensitise the people in creating awareness about public hygiene.

"On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, I would like to mention one such case which is a shame on all of us. No other country in the world where about 60 per cent women have to go to the field for open defecation," rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said in a function organised by the Hunger Project..."

The Telegrpah of Calcutta reported on Nov 14 2011:

"Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh today described India as the “dirtiest and filthiest” country in the world where people with mobile phones go out to answer the “call of nature”...

...“Today, if you go to many parts of India, you have women with a mobile phone going out to answer the call of nature. I mean it is paradoxical,” the minister, who also holds charge of sanitation, said at an event here.

"You have a mobile phone and you don't have a toilet. When you have a toilet, you don't use the toilet... (but) use it as a godown."...”

I understand the minister's frustration but I don't understand when he says it is "paradoxical".

Does he mean one should not use mobile while defecating or if one owns a mobile one should not defecate in open?

Has there been a study why people, especially in rural India, prefer to defecate in open even when they have access to a toilet? Is it because it probably requires less water? Why do 60% Indian women go to the field for defecation?

I asked my wife if she had a view. She said: Maybe they want to get away from their oppressive life for a short time.


Courtesy: Photograph: Garry Weaser for the Guardian

Guardian Books Blog says:

"...No writer owned the arena of toilet reading more than Henry Miller. He read truly great books on the lavatory, and maintained that some, Ulysses for instance, could not be fully appreciated elsewhere. The environment was one that enriched substantial works – extracted their flavour, as he put it – while lesser books and magazines suffered. He singled out Atlantic Monthly.

Miller went so far as to recommend toilets for individual authors. To enjoy Rabelais, he advised a plain country toilet, "a little outhouse in the corn patch, with a crescent sliver of light coming through the door". Better still, he said, take a friend along, to sit with you for half an hour of minor bliss..."

Do some of 'those' Indians seek 'minor bliss' when they defecate in open by choice?

As a kid, I have done it a few times. And I feel, there is some merit in 'minor bliss' theory!