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."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gathering in Circles Around the Glimmering Lights of GA's Epigraphs

Tomorrow December 11 2012 is 25th death anniversary of  G A Kulkarni (जी. ए. कुलकर्णी)

Walter de la Mare:

"No, No, Why further should we roam
Since every road man Journeys by,
Ends on a hillside far from Home
Under an alien sky"

from me to GA:

"तुम्ही अवतरले गोकुळी आम्ही गोपाळांच्या मेळी
तुम्ही होते रामराजा आम्ही वानरांच्या फौजा"

(Marathi folksong quoted in Srinivas Vinayak  Kulkarni's 'Aamhi Vanaranchya Phauja', 1965)

I still remember the December 12 1987's eerie morning  at Nashik (नाशिक) when I heard about GA's death on the All India Radio

After reading GA's numerous letters, particularly about his final years,  and knowing full well that such decisions are very complex, I still wonder if he should have stayed back in his beloved Dharwad instead of moving to alien Pune (पुणे). When I went to Agra in 1980's,  I was most moved by the place they show where  dethroned Emperor Shah Jahan used to sit and stare at The Taj Mahal in the distance as he lay dying. 

I was at 'G A Kulkarni road' in Pune, a few months ago, to attend an engagement ceremony, in a makeshift hall, in a multistory building's basement, and how grotesque it sounded that that piece of Pune- complete with a Pizza Hut- and not some Greek Colosseum or a stretch of beach at Mahabalipuram is named after GA!  Indeed, the world ends not with a bang but a whimper.


Although I have bought it some time ago, like majority of  my books, I have still not read  Cervantes's 'Don Quixote'. 

But I kind of feel I have 'received' it after every reading- 50 at least- of G A's  'Yatrik' (यात्रिक) from the collection of his short stories 'Pinglavel' (पिंगळावेळ), 1977.

Equally delightful has been reading D V Deshpande's (धों वि देशपांडे ) commentary on G A's story in 'jeeenchya katha: ek anwayarth' (जीएंच्या कथा: एक अन्वयार्थ).

 Yatrik  has these lines:

"अरे, निर्बुद्ध, जड जगाविषयी बदलती रुपके करत राहण्यापेक्षा तुझ्या रुपकांप्रमाणे जर जग बदलत जाऊ लागले तर तुला तरी जास्त काय हवे सांग."

("...hey, instead of creating changing metaphors for stupid, gross world, if the world starts changing to suit your metaphors, tell me what more you want.")

In October 2012 I read on Guardian website:

"New book cover designs for the Observer 100 greatest novels of all time list – in pictures:

Belgian artist Tom Haentjens has united 100 artists from 28 countries in a co-creation project, Doedemee to help raise awareness of illiteracy in Africa. Each has redesigned a poster-sized cover for a book from the list compiled by Robert McCrum in 2003..."

What  pleasure those designs gave!

I was captivated particularly by this:


Don Quixote, designed by Lobulo Design Photograph: Public Domain

Now doesn't it represent: Wold Starts Changing to Suit His Metaphor...?   I feel it does.

They say GA was a good painter. I can't vouch for that. But being a voracious reader, I wonder if he ever saw Roc Riera Rojas illustrated special edition of  Don Quixote. 

After seeing the picture below from that edition, I re-read GA's story and imagined dialogues between Don and Sancho spoken by the figures below.

It was a lot of fun. 



GA was a master of epigraphs. His books would not be complete without the epigraphs he chose for them. (I wonder why  he didn't also choose images to go along.)

Rachel Sagner Buurma writes:

"Epigraphs escort us safely across the boundary between the title page and the story. Easing us into narrative, epigraphs make us pause and notice the transition from the world to the work, from life to the novel. They slow us down—which is why we often skip them."

(The New Republic, December 6 2012)


GA chose these two epigraphs for 'Pinglavel' (पिंगळा वेळ), 1977:

                           You do not know
The unspoken voice of sorrow in the ancient bedroom
At three o'clock in the morning.
                                               - T. S Eliot

'Shallow people demand variety - but I have been 
writing the same story throughout my life, every
time trying to cut nearer the aching nerve.
                                                         - Strindberg   

I have reproduced them very close to as they appear in the book.

Now revisit  Prof.  Buurma's quote above.

Each story from GA's book is nicely set up with these epigraphs...they indeed transition us from 'the world to the work, from life to the novel. They slow us down' —but I never skip them! I might skip his book!

Prof.  Buurma concludes:

"The Art of the Epigraph’s epigraph, drawn from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, says that books “continue each other in spite of our habit of judging them separately.” This is true—but it might not be the whole truth. For though we like to imagine the autonomy of a world of books that speak to one another, separate from our own fallible judgments and best guesses and wishful thinking, it may be that all we have are groups of readers, gathering in circles around the glimmering lights of our authors’ epigraphs, building literature together one line at a time."

GA probably would have loved this conclusion...'groups of readers, gathering in circles around the glimmering lights of our authors’ epigraphs, building literature together one line at a time.'