मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

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: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Out in My Old Town Love Canoe

Rachel Cooke:

In the end, though, it's difficult to go along with Wolf's central contention, which is that women can only harness their creativity when in a fulfilled sexual relationship – a thesis based largely, it seems, on a reading of Edith Wharton and George Eliot, and the relationship of Georgia O'Keeffe with Alfred Stieglitz. Her evidence is crudely selective, and strangely unimaginative. Hasn't it ever occurred to her that, sometimes, happiness writes white? Didn't she wonder about the sex lives of art's great spinsters? But it's also, I think, an unhappily reductive way of looking at the world. Sex is a huge part of life. But it's not everything, and we do ourselves a disservice if we try to suggest otherwise.

(Guardian, September 16 2012, review of 'Vagina: A New Biography' by Naomi Wolf)

In middle class culture of  Maharashtra, water for recreational purpose is almost absent. Reasons are not hard to figure: Hardly any perennial lakes and rivers.

Contrast that with gardens built by the Mughals in the Islamic style of architecture. Two of their most important features are running water and a pool to reflect the beauties of sky and garden. No Yamuna river, no Taj Mahal perhaps.

When water, canoe, man, woman, moon come together in the night, they mean  romance and its occasional delightful expression such as in the picture below.

Artist: S D Phadnis (शि. द. फडणीस) courtesy: Official website of S D Phadnis

I said romance but not sex.

I recently read "Love Boats: The Delightfully Sinful History of Canoes".

"Before the youth of America fooled around at drive-ins and necked on Lover’s Lane, they coupled in canoes. Boatloads of them. In the early 1900s, canoes offered randy young guys and gals a means of escape to a semi-private setting, away from the prying eyes of their pious Victorian chaperones...

...As further proof that canoeing had become a hotbed for teenage delinquents, in 1913 the Minneapolis Parks Board refused to issue permits for canoes with unpalatable names. Local newspapers published some of the offensive phrases that slipped past the board the previous summer, including “Thehelusa,” “Kumomin Kid,” “Kismekwik,” “Damfino,” “Ilgetu,” “Aw-kom-in,” “G-I-Lov-U,” “Skwizmtyt,” “Ildaryoo,” “Win-kat-us,” “O-U-Q-T,” “What the?,” “Joy-tub,” “Cupid’s Nest,” and “I Would Like to Try It.” The commissioners unanimously agreed to outlaw phrases lacking obvious moral and grammatical standards, though a few of these clever pre-text-message abbreviations clearly had them scratching their heads...

...But this floating, petting paradise would not last. “When motorcars became more available in the early ’20s, courting in canoes sort of fell off,” says (Roger) Young. “Guys were getting into their Model Ts or Model As and going off with girls for a Sunday drive instead of canoeing.” And what went on in the backseats of those cars? Well, that’s a whole different story."

Following picture too has water, canoe, man, woman, moon together. But the desires are less poetic and more carnal than in the picture above!

A comic postcard advertising Old Town Canoes makes an open joke of their preferred use. 

Image courtesy: Benson Gray

Go back to Phadnis's picture above. I can't imagine man and woman  in that canoe making out little latter. I feel even suggestion of sex will spoil that mood. But then maybe I am now old. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Is She J E Millais's "Mariana" or Ray's "Charulata"?

I consider myself lucky that I saw "The pre-Raphaelites at Tate Britain - audio art tour" on Guardian, September 11 2012.

I spent hours going through it.

When I saw following picture, I was reminded of Satyajit Ray's "Charulata", 1964.

Charulata is a "story of a lonely housewife, known as Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee), who lives a wealthy, secluded and idle life in 1870's Calcutta."

("Charulata" has been on this blog before here and here.)

"Mariana" by John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896) dated 1851

"This painting is an allegory of Victorian sexual repression and the longings of women trapped in dreary lives. Mariana is a character from Shakespeare’s 'Measure for Measure', a play that satirises sexual hypocrisy. Millais’ contemporary, the poet laureate, Alfred Tennyson, laments the domestic incarceration of Shakespeare’s character in his poem Mariana, which Millais quoted when he unveiled this painting: "She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary, / I would that I were dead!’""


"Christian saints in a stained glass window literally obstruct Mariana’s view of the outside world, while an altar lit by a lamp reveals that she is eking out her youth in prayer."

"Desolate autumnal leaves blow through the house. Time is passing, it is late in the season. Life is passing Mariana by."

"The Lady of Shalott" is a Victorian ballad by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892). Trapped in a sterile existence and melancholy of leaves suggests that well.

'Mariana' Images are courtesy: Tate Photography; Some commentary is courtesy: Guardian
"Mariana as she stretches her sensual body is desperately bored in what looks like a 19th-century vicarage. Her pose emphasises her curvaceous hips and slender waist as Millais hymns rebellious desire."

Millais goes for bored Mariana's sexuality, her longing to be a woman in puritanical setting. Without showing us her curves, Ray does something similar to Charu by making her sexually desire Amal, her husband's cousin.

'Charulata' images are courtesy: RDB Productions and Big Home Video

Ray's film is based on   Rabindranath Tagore's  novella "Nastanirh". Did Tagore ever see or hear about Millais's "Mariana"?