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.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

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, August 10, 2013

Can We Broken Statues Escape Tragic Flaws?...लेखनातील ट्रॅजिक फ्लॉ


James Thurber:

"Even a well-ordered life can not lead anybody safely around the inevitable doom that waits in the skies."
 
Burton Raffel:

"Aristotle’s definition of “tragedy” is supremely applicable to both Othello and to his wife.“The change from prosperity to adversity should not be represented as happening to a virtuous character,” Aristotle explained. Nor “should the fall of a very bad man from prosperous to adverse fortune be represented.” In other words, no one who is consistently “virtuous” can be the central figure in a true tragedy, but neither can anyone who is utterly without virtue play such a role. Aristotle spoke of the virtuous figure’s downfall being caused by “some error of human frailty”; this has come to be called the “tragic flaw.” And, again, there can be no doubt that Othello, like King Oedipus and a host of tragic heroes after Oedipus, presents a striking instance of exactly that nature. Oedipus is arrogant, wrathful, rash, but has no awareness that he suffers from any of these fatal imperfections. Othello is a social simpleton,a military bull in a civilian china shop, and similarly has no idea of these crucial deficiencies. Both men are resplendent heroes, and both fall like broken statues." 

जी ए कुलकर्णी :

"...सार्या आयुष्यात तांडेलाला आपण तांडेल का झालो हे समजले नाही. रात्रंदिवस अस्वस्थपणे विचार करणार्या समुद्रालासुद्धा, अनंत काळ जाऊन देखील, 'आपण समुद्रच का झालो?' याचे उत्तर अद्यापही मिळाले नसेल!"

 ('इस्किलार', 'रमलखुणा', 1974)

विंदा करंदीकर, 'राजा लिअर':

"गर्जा वादळांनो, थोबाड फाटेपर्यंत! करा आक्रोश!
करा गर्जना!
हे जलस्तंभांनो आणि तुफानांनो, सोडा फूत्कार
आमचे मनोरे भिजून जाईपर्यंत, आमचे पवनकुक्कुट
बुडेपावेतो!
विचारवेगाने संचार करणाऱ्या हे गंधकाग्नींनो,
ओकाच्या वृक्षांना दुभंगून टाकणाऱ्या
वज्रांच्या अग्रदूतांनो,
माझे शुभ्र डोके काढा होरपळून, चराचर कापवणाऱ्या
हे विद्युतगर्जने,
हा पृथ्वीचा सघन गोलाकार, कर सपाट एकाच
तडाख्यात!
टाक फोडून निसर्गाचे साचे, कर नष्ट एका दमात
सगळे बीजद्रव्य
ज्यातून निपजते ही जात कृतघ्न माणसांची..."


Sally Satel:

"Summoning an array of anthropological evidence, (James Q.) Wilson elaborated on the idea that our moral sense is innate, acquired not through learning but through evolution."

Lucy Coats:

"I like the story of Nyx, and the fates. Nyx was the goddess of the night and her cloak covered the night sky. She had three daughters who were the fates. I love the story of the fates: Klotho, Atropos, and Lakhesis, who weave the tapestry of life. They’re the ones who decide what your fate is going to be, so they snip the thread if you’re going to die. I just love the mystery of it."
 
Actor Amruta Subhash (अमृता सुभाष) writes in Loksatta, July 27 2013:

"...कारण मी जर तसं करू शकले तर माणूस म्हणून माझ्यात 'फ्लॉज' नक्कीच असतील पण ते शेक्सपिअरच्या नायकासारखे 'ट्रॅजिक' उरणार नाहीत!"

(...so if I can do that as a human I will continue to have 'flaws' but they won't be tragic like that of heroes in Shakespeare's plays!)

It's hard to believe that this comes from an alumnus of National School of Drama, New Delhi and one of the better actors of Marathi stage. (Is it because of all the 'acting' in dumb TV serials?)

There are two questions that arise from Ms. Subhash's statement:

1. Should we avoid tragic flaws?  2. Is it in us to avoid them?

Let me start with the second.

Tragic flaw is defined as  "(hamartia from Greek hamartanein, "to err"), inherent defect or shortcoming in the hero of a tragedy, who is in other respects a superior being favored by fortune." 

(Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008.)

If it is "inherent defect or shortcoming", Ms. Subhash, how do you avoid it? Only by not being born!

If you are born, can you avoid being the hero in a tragedy? 

No, because tragedy comes from the encounter of human will with fate / destiny and every human is a 'hero' in her life's story.  

And  can we escape the encounter with fate / destiny? No, because we can never know about the last sorrow?

John Gray says: "The last sorrow cannot be told. If the dead could speak we would not understand them. We are wise to hold to the semblance of tragedy; the truth unveiled would only blind us."
And we can't escape the last sorrow because as Simone Weil says:  “All the tragedies which we can imagine return in the end to the one and only tragedy: the passage of time.”

Where does Ms. Subhash's optimism, so widespread among talking heads of  Maharashtra, come from?  

This thinking is not native to India. It comes mainly from Socrates.

John Gray explains:  

"In the Greek world in which Homer’s songs were sung, it was taken for granted that everyone’s life is ruled by fate and chance. For Homer, human life is a succession of contingencies: all good things are vulnerable to fortune. Socrates could not accept this archaic tragic vision. He believed that virtue and happiness were one and the same; nothing can harm a truly good man. So he re-envisioned the good to make it indestructible. Beyond the goods of human life – health, beauty, pleasure, friendship, life itself – there was a Good that surpassed them all...."

("Straw Dogs")

As quoted at the beginning even "Aristotle spoke of the virtuous figure’s downfall being caused by “some error of human frailty”..."...the truth is we simply don't know about either our frailties or fatal imperfections...and how can we eliminate something we don't know?

Let me know turn to the first question: Is "tragic flaw" all that bad so that we avoid them if we can? 

The Economist, July 15 1999:

"...“Dr Strangelove” was, of course, a stepping stone to “ 2001: A Space Odyssey”, the modern classic by which he is best remembered. The story of evolution, from Darwinian apes, through homo sapiens to a new kind of star child, it is astonishingly highbrow for a mainstream movie. How did Kubrick get away with it? By introducing a sub-plot involving a computer named HAL9000, who distrusts man's ability to explore space and takes firm steps to frustrate the mission. This is the element of conflict, without which any drama is incomplete. But is HAL really a “baddie”? Or more of a Shakespearian hero—a great mind whose inability to trust man's intellect is its tragic flaw"

Artist: William Steig, The New Yorker, February 21 1970


2 comments:

Deepak Saraswat said...

“A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.”
? Jorge Luis Borges, The Aleph and Other Stories

Tragic Flaw' is neither bad nor good it is reality of life of humans with which we born. And why to try to avoid it or even bother about it ? Our job is to face each coming moment of our life with full of 'response' to it.And when will we become able to avoid it?
only when curtain falls. ( after tradgedy happens) what,s the use of it? ( in fact it is not even possible)

all we can wait like ghalib says [ har dam e mauj me hai ek halka e sadkame nihang , dekhiye kya gujarti hai katre pe guhar hone tak] means there is a jaw of crocodile opened in a sea and through which each drop of water is passing now let us see which drop of water becomes a guhar (a pearl) after passing through mouth of this jaw of life. we can only do waiting and facing our moments of life. ( which occur due to ' tragic flaw')

but of course there is opposite branch of thought also which says to sum up in sartre,s famous dialogue ( Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.) in this way he holds us responsible for even our ' some error of human fraility' so okay we accept our responsibility for our (innate flaw) about which we know only after tragedy happens. but ultimately whole process of having flaw- entering into tragedy-and facing it is all this is very important and something great.

i dont know exactly how to put it more clearly than this. but poem of vinda karndikar was really beautiful which reminds final line of one of poem of robinson jeffers ' do not worry o beautiful planet human race is not immortal !( he says to earth ) this i came to know from ga kulkarni,s one of the letters so curiously i read his other poems but did not appeal so much .

and sir the cartoon of tragic joker really brought tears to my eyes really one single picture says all which we can not express through so many words.Hats of to you sir again!



.

Aniruddha G. Kulkarni said...

Thanks Deepak. Your comments are worth reading a few times. I have now read them twice.

You have filled in the gaps in my post and I also thank you for that.

William Steig was a great cartoonist and you will find a few of his pictures on this blog.

As I have told a few people, I am happy even more when people are happy with the pictures here than words. This blog is first about visuals.

Keep meeting...best