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.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

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."

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.'