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."
Friday, March 16, 2012
'Politics vs. Literature — An examination of Gulliver's travels':
"But the most essential thing in Swift is his inability to believe that life — ordinary life on the solid earth, and not some rationalized, deodorized version of it — could be made worth living. Of course, no honest person claims that happiness is now a normal condition among adult human beings; but perhaps it could be made normal, and it is upon this question that all serious political controversy really turns."
Business Standard, March 3 2012:
"Indian men are among the most dissatisfied people at work across the globe, according to a report by Accenture, ‘The Path Forward’. The research report stated that as much as 72 per cent of men in India are not satisfied with their jobs. Brazil tops the list with a figure of 74 per cent men dissatisfied with their jobs."
"...Progress condemns idleness. The work needed to deliver humanity is vast. Indeed it is limitless, since as one plateau of achievement is reached another looms up. Of course this is only a mirage; but the worst of progress is not that it is an illusion. It is that it is endless.
In Greek myth, Sisyphus struggles to roll a stone to the top of a hill so it will then roll down the other side. Robert Graves tells his story thus:
He has never yet succeeded in doing so. As soon as he has almost reached the summit, he is forced back by the weight of the shameless stone, which bounces to the very bottom once more; where he wearily retrieves it and must begin all over again, though sweat bathes his limbs, and a cloud of dust rises above his head.
For the ancients, unending labour was the mark of a slave. The labours of Sisyphus are a punishment. In working for progress we submit to a labour no less servile..."
a self-dooming Sisyphus with a power tool?
the cover of 'The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It Hard to Be Happy' by Michael Foley
The latest trigger to publish the post came from GREG SMITH's op-ed in The New York Times "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs" on March 14 2012.
Mr. Smith says:
"Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement...Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence...I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all..."
Artist: Stuart Carlson, July 16 2009
Mr. Smith is mistaken. It's not about shortcuts at all. It's about the journey itself...fundamental nature of our labour.
(By the way, this is what Joe Nelson who left his job as a vice president of Goldman Sachs in December 2011 to start a company that sells condoms in 95 different sizes had to say this about Mr. Smith's op-ed:
"I think it's a little low quality to be honest. My immediate take was that the guy failed to make MD (again) and the bonus/non-bonus cheque cashed 2 weeks ago -- so sour grapes if you like. What a way to go! If the op-ed was signed off 'XYZ, Partner at Gs' I would have taken a lot more notice.”)
This is what Charles Duhigg writes in 'The Power of Habit':
"...If you can identify the right cue and reward—and if you can create a sense of craving—you can establish almost any habit.
“Consumers need some kind of signal that a product is working,” Tracy Sinclair, who was a brand manager for Oral- B and Crest Kids Toothpaste, told me. “We can make toothpaste taste like anything—blueberries, green tea—and as long as it has a cool tingle, people feel like their mouth is clean. The tingling doesn’t make the toothpaste work any better. It just convinces people it’s doing the job.”..."
(Slate.com, Feb. 28, 2012)
And after this India's the best and the brightest will continue to join FMCG transnational giants becoming their world oral-care chiefs, located in London and Singapore and New York.
"Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar's livelihood and that of numberless respectable people. Beggars do not work, it is said; but, then, what is work? A navvy works by swinging a pick. An accountant works by adding up figures. A beggar works by standing out of doors in all weathers and getting varicose veins, chronic bronchitis, etc. It is a trade like any other; quite useless, of course--but, then, many reputable trades are quite useless. And as a social type a beggar compares well with scores of others. He is honest compared with the sellers of most patent medicines, high-minded compared with a Sunday newspaper proprietor, amiable compared with a hire-purchase tout--in short, a parasite, but a fairly harmless parasite. He seldom extracts more than a bare living from the community, and, what should justify him according to our ethical ideas, he pays for it over and over in suffering. I do not think there is anything about a beggar that sets him in a different class from other people, or gives most modern men the right to despise him."
But to labour as Sisyphus does is perhaps our fate.
Sisyphus supposedly rolled a round boulder like this:
Artist: Marcell Jankovics, 1974
What if it is cubical and not spherical?
Artist: Mick Stevens, The New Yorker, December 2011