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 31, 2013

Dahi Handi...Lament For an Unknown Govinda

Adrian Shubert, 'Death and Money in the Afternoon', 1999:

"The bullfight was the clearest symptom of what (José Ortega y Gasset) Ortega saw as the prime pathology of Spanish history from the eighteenth century on: “For the first time Spain sealed itself off hermetically from the rest of the world, even from its own hispanic world. I call this the tibetanization of Spain.” Ortega’s contention that the bullfight embodied Spain’s rejection of the modern world, and especially its rejection of the Enlightenment, has remained alive and influential."

"Before and beyond all else, the bullfight was a business. Its purpose, from its inception, was to make money: for private institutions and public purposes as well as for the growing myriad of individuals for whom it was a source of income, sometimes the sole source of income."

 Orson Welles:

"Well, there are two kinds of people who follow the bulls, as they say in Spanish. There are those people who follow because they love the bullfighters, and there is a very small minority who are interested in the bulls, and I was always most interested in the bulls."
Marathi news TV channels showed almost nonstop coverage of Dahi Handi festival in Mumbai, Thane, Pune  on most of afternoon/evening hours of August 29th 2013. 

Going against the grain, in a wonderful example of incisive reporting,  Loksatta (लोकसत्ता), a Marathi (मराठी) daily, on  August 30 2013:

"असंवेदनांचा उत्सव: डीजेचा ढणढणाट, राजकारण्यांची चमकोगिरी आणि मादक नाचगाण्याच्या धुंदीत हरवत चाललेल्या या सणामुळे सामान्यांच्या कानाबरोबरच जणू मनेही बधिर झाली आहेत. घरात साधे खेळताना पडणाऱ्या मुलाला पाहिले की काळजात चर्र होते. पण गोविंदा पथकांच्या सर्वात वरच्या थरावर पाच-सात वर्षांची चिमुरडी मुले सलामी देत होती. मनोरा पडल्यानंतर खाली कोसळणाऱ्या या कोवळ्या शरीरांशी जणू कुणालाच काही देणेघेणे नव्हते. माणुसकीला पायदळी तुडवत दहीहंडीचा उत्सव साजरा होत होता. कुणाचा हातपाय मोडला तर बाजूलाच उभ्या असलेल्या रुग्णवाहिकेत टाकून रुग्णालयात रवानगी व्हायची. या जखमी गोविंदांचे जणू कुणालाच सोयरसुतक नव्हते. असंवेदनांचाच उत्सव जागोजागी पाहायला मिळत होता..."

("Festival of insensitivities:  Along with ears, it's like minds of common people have become numb because of fading of the festival in blaring music of DJ, glittering of politicos and inebriation that comes with sensuous singing and dancing  It's heartbreaking to see a kid slipping while playing even at home. But the top layers of Govinda-teams  that were making human pyramids were made up of five-seven year old kids. When the pyramid collapsed,  it was as if no one was concerned about those tender bodies. Dahi-handi festival was being celebrated by crushing humanity. If anyone broke his hand or leg, he was being dispatched to the hospital in an ambulance standing by. No one as if was concerned about those injured Govinda's. The festival of insensitivities could be seen in a number of places...")

This reminded me of another 'festival' of insensitivities: Bullfighting, a traditional spectacle of Spain and  a few other nations.

Is it just a  coincidence that Spanish castellers participate in Dahi Handi festivals?

Spiegel Online interviewed Spanish Matador Juan José Padilla on April 12 2012. Read it here.

Here I reproduce a small part of the interview:

"...Padilla: You don't understand the full picture. We toreros have a different view of things. The bull doesn't suffer because he's in a state of complete abandon. And that state gives rise to beauty.

SPIEGEL: You and your assistants spend about 20 minutes exhausting the bull to the point of apathy. The mounted picador mauls him with his lance, the loss of blood weakens the animal, and the muscles in his neck are so mutilated that he can hardly lift his head anymore. During the deathblow, the sword penetrates between the shoulder blades, going past the spine and into the intestines. But the blade is often deflected by a bone, and the matador has to try again. The stab wound usually doesn't kill the bull outright, which is why the assistants goad him on to move his head back and forth and to keep moving until he falls to the ground. Only then is he deliberately killed with a thrust of the sword to the neck. How is this abandon? And where's the beauty in it?

Padilla: I won't answer that question. I'm not sitting here to begin an argument with opponents of bullfighting. I won't waste any time addressing the arguments of bullfighting opponents..."

 Artist: Garrett Price, The New Yorker, October 26 1940

"I don't think you'll find falling of the kids to their death in the program, dear."

Below I reproduce first part of great Federico García Lorca's poem Lament For Ignacio Sanchez Mejias”,  translated from Spanish into English (Mr. Mejías, friend of the poet was killed in a bullfight):

"1. Cogida and death

At five in the afternoon.
It was exactly five in the afternoon.
A boy brought the white sheet
at five in the afternoon.
A trail of lime ready prepared
at five in the afternoon.
The rest was death, and death alone.

The wind carried away the cottonwool
at five in the afternoon.
And the oxide scattered crystal and nickel
at five in the afternoon.
Now the dove and the leopard wrestle
at five in the afternoon.
And a thigh with a desolated horn
at five in the afternoon.
The bass-string struck up
at five in the afternoon.
Arsenic bells and smoke
at five in the afternoon.
Groups of silence in the corners
at five in the afternoon.
And the bull alone with a high heart!
At five in the afternoon.
When the sweat of snow was coming
at five in the afternoon,
when the bull ring was covered with iodine
at five in the afternoon.
Death laid eggs in the wound
at five in the afternoon.
At five in the afternoon.
At five o'clock in the afternoon.

A coffin on wheels is his bed
at five in the afternoon.
Bones and flutes resound in his ears
at five in the afternoon.
Now the bull was bellowing through his forehead
at five in the afternoon.
The room was iridescent with agony
at five in the afternoon.
In the distance the gangrene now comes
at five in the afternoon.
Horn of the lily through green groins
at five in the afternoon.
The wounds were burning like suns
at five in the afternoon.
At five in the afternoon.
Ah, that fatal five in the afternoon!
It was five by all the clocks!
It was five in the shade of the afternoon!
...

...

..."

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