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."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Darling of Unmodern People...मध्ययुगीन राधा ही बावरी!



Manohla Dargis, The New York Times, June 27 2012:

"...For all the technological innovations, the groovy new Bat cycles and codpieces, superhero movies just recycle variations on gender stereotypes that were in circulation back in the late 1930s, when Superman and Batman first hit. The world has moved on — there’s an African-American man in the Oval Office, a woman is the secretary of state — but the movie superhero remains stuck in a pre-feminist, pre-civil rights logic that dictates that a bunch of white dudes, as in “The Avengers,” will save the world for the grateful multiracial, multicultural multitudes. What a bunch of super-nonsense."
 

The Economist, February 15 2001:

"...Dipankar Gupta contends, justly, that India's fascination with western gadgetry and lifestyles has not brought modernity. You can subjugate women and make a weapon of religion just as well with a mobile phone as without one, probably better. True modernity, Mr Gupta writes, entails adhering to universal norms, upholding individual rights, making the state accountable. His book pleads with India to put modernisation in place of “westoxication”..."

महेश एलकुंचवार, लोकसत्ता, August 17 2013:

"...ढिसाळ, बेजबाबदार, बौद्धिक आळशीपणा, नाठाळ, स्वत:मध्ये बदल न करणारा आणि संयम हरवलेला ही मराठी माणसाची लक्षणे सुमारपणातूनच आली आहेत...अभिरुचीची ही घसरण सुरू असून अभिजात म्हणजे काय हेही आम्हाला कळत नाही..."

I stopped watching any Marathi and Hindi TV soap operas more than a decade ago.

This does not mean I am against them. I might have been once but not now. They are popular and, other than creating considerable employment, they serve a useful purpose: Serving senior citizens.

Maharashtra has a large and growing population of middle-class senior citizens. They now live longer and (at least bodily) healthier. While it's often easy to say, one should read books, there is a limit to how much one can read with a weakening eyesight.

A similar argument can be made about even chatting or walking. Public parks have almost vanished from the most of urban Maharashtra. Even suburban roads are un-walkable because they are serious-accident traps. There is no public transport that is economical to use and not dangerous. In places like Pune, auto-rickshaws refuse the fares for short distances with impunity. All this severely restricts senior citizens' movements beyond immediate neighbourhood.

There are no card/carom/chess clubs in the vicinity.

How do people kill time from about sunset to until they sleep?

Answer: Watching soap opera channels including Marathi news channels because the latter are as 'entertaining' as the former. 

(I know a couple of people who get withdrawal symptoms if they don't watch their soaps. I also know some who watch the same episode multiple times in a 24-hours cycle.)

Look at the picture below. Aren't they well served by Marathi soap operas?



Artist: Vasant Sarwate,  Lalit, Diwali 2007 (वसंत सरवटे, ललित, दिवाळी)

David Foster Wallace has said: "TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests."

Therefore, those who watch  "vulgar and prurient and dumb" serials are not vulgar and prurient and dumb in all their interests.

My wife- Anju (अंजु)- too hardly watched any TV except extremely funny 'CID' on Sony channel. (CID is really funny, in fact currently the only genuinely funny program on Hindi-Marathi TV. Just watch some of the CID jokes on FB.)
 
A couple of months ago Anju started watching 'Radha Hi Bawari' (राधा ही बावरी), a Marathi TV serial. I asked her why.

She said she liked its theme of romance of over-thirty professional, well qualified girl- Radha (राधा)- with a younger, ingenuous, lowly-educated boy- Sourav (सौरव), her husband.

And then one recent morning, she announced: she would not watch it any more. I once again asked her why.

She said she was sick and tired of the way Sourav was constantly denounced by his wife and his motherly sister-in-law for "not doing anything worthwhile".

My wife felt why Sourav should do "something" as long as he was a good sensitive person, a potentially good homemaker and, above all, loved by Radha. As a qualified doctor, Radha was making enough money to lead a happy life. Did they ever fear that they might destroy Sourav in the process of remaking him? Couldn't they change Sourav with their love? Couldn't they be little less shrill?

Having seen glimpses of the serial along with my wife, I completely agree with my wife. The serial  reinforces the stereotypes of 20th century: a man / husband/ father should earn money no matter what...otherwise he is not a 'man'.


Artist: Emily S. Flake,   Courtesy: brain pickings

The rate at which Sourav is being pounded by his close ones, I think,  he needs to see a psychiatrist very soon. Of course, that will never be shown because seeing a psychiatrist is perhaps for the sissies!

I have Dipankar Gupta's 'Mistaken Modernity: India Between Worlds', first published 2000.

I have always liked what the book basically does: "issues a damning indictment of the "westoxicated" elitist Indian middle class, and shows how unmodern the people of this class are in the very areas in which they are considered to be modern".


Akash Kapur wrote about it in The New York Times, July 29 2010:

"...Mr. Gupta was referring to a particularly superficial version of modernity that he believed was taking root in the nation — one defined more by Western consumer habits and lifestyles than by adherence to a cosmopolitan, tolerant set of values and democratic norms.
He pointed, for instance, to the persistence of caste bias, oppressive traditions and historical inequalities in a nation where ownership of washing machines, cars and other material trappings of global capitalism was increasing. He argued that in many ways India was an unmodern nation..."


courtesy: the owner of the copyrights to this image and the author of the book

p.s I write on September 27 2013:

Loksatta, September 26 2013:

" वीस वर्षांपूर्वी, उपग्रह वाहिन्यांच्या उदयकाळात आलेल्या बोल्ड नायिकाप्रधान मालिकांची जागा आता सोशिक, दुखी नायिकांनी घेतली आहे. आजचे प्रेक्षक काळाच्या वीस वर्षे मागे आहेत, असे वास्तव टीव्ही-चित्रपट निर्माती अश्विनी यार्दी यांनी बुधवारी परखडपणे मांडले...उपग्रह वाहिन्यांवरून सुरुवातीच्या काळात दाखविल्या जाणाऱ्या मालिकांचा प्रेक्षकवर्ग समाजातील उच्चशिक्षितांचा होता. त्यामुळे तेव्हा हसरतें, तारा अशा मालिकांमधून बोल्ड नायिका प्रेक्षकांच्या पसंतीला उतरल्या. सन २००० नंतर उपग्रह वाहिन्या सर्वदूर पसरल्या. शहरीच नव्हे तर निमशहरी ग्रामीण भागातील प्रेक्षकांना समोर ठेवून मालिका बनवणे क्रमप्राप्त ठरले. आज बोल्ड नायिकांना प्रेक्षकवर्ग नाही. मालिकांमधील नायिका या मान खाली घालून राहणाऱ्या, दुख सहन करणाऱ्या व सोशिक रंगवल्या जात आहेत, असे यार्दी म्हणाल्या. भरजरी कपडय़ांमध्ये घरात वावरणाऱ्या, किचनमध्ये सतत राबणाऱ्या, स्वयंपाक बनवत राहणाऱ्या, कुटुंबियांमध्ये आग लावत असलेल्या व्यक्तिरेखा प्रेक्षकांच्या आवडीनुसार दाखवल्या जातात. त्यांच्यात बदल केलेला प्रेक्षकांना रुचत नाही. वेगळ्या विषयांवरील, गंभीर मालिका आपटतात, अशी खंतही त्यांनी व्यक्त केली. किचनमध्ये तयार होणाऱ्या पदार्थाची प्रक्रिया विचारणारे, सोफासेटचे कौतुक करणारे आणि भिंतीवरील चित्र का बदलले याची चौकशी करणारे अनेक फोन आणि पत्रे येत असतात..."

3 comments:

Deepak Saraswat said...

This reminds me a complex relationship between frank o conor and ayn rand (who is famous for her philosophy of
objectivism and her novels fountainhead and atlas shrugged) In their life frank was absolutely depended on ayn
rand for money.his income was very low and not earning many times.he was an actor but used to get very few roles
mostly through ayn rand only. She loved him very much their marriage lasted for many years.

he used to jokingly calls himself i am Mr.Ayn Rand. Interestingly Rand started affair with nathaniel branden who was
25 years younger than her.Rand started affair by openly telling to frank taking his consent and setting rules for meeting
with branden twice in a week.Nathaneil also took permission from his wife barbra branden for keeping sexual relationship with rand.
Now after some years dispute occurred between rand and branden she left branden.

Now the point is if any human being male or female can live independently if he is financially dependent on anyone ?
can one take any decision even on his own ? can such person,s consent is having any value?
whether he accepts or rejects does it at all matter to the person on whom one is financially depending?

I always wonder the value of frank o conor,s 'consent' which was 'extracted' from him by ayn rand.

Any human (male/female) can not just live without at least basic money.There is no freedom basically.And there exactly is a problem
That serial guy must earn money to be free to lead his own life by own philosophy.how is it possible for anyone to hold
even some philosophy if he is depending on others for basic survival.

If we consider the stages of development in humans as survival then stability then success & finally self actualization
then one who is not earning money just can not survive today he cant even physically exists so one who is struggling with basic survival or
depending on some one else for it just cant achieve any further stage of development.For this purpose (whether he loves his
wife or not is really not concerned here )he should act to earn money.

even all the feminists from simone de beauvoir till date puts forward one common point that to make woman free from bondage
first she must be financially independent.But i think it applies to both men and women.Nobody must be slave of anyone.It is
every humans duty to sustain his physical and then further development.

i think it is an existential question rather man woman relationship matter.

And you created hunger in my mind to read this book of 'dipankar gupta' thanks for reference.Also how sensitively you
understand senior citizen's needs and understands the importance of TV in their lonely empty life. especially when evrybody
criticises tv. It also reminded me great great soap episodes of book'Aunt Julia and scriptwriter' written by Maria vargas LLosa
a nobel prize winner latin american author.the only difference is they were Radio Serials.

Deepak Saraswat said...

This reminds me a complex relationship between frank o conor and ayn rand (who is famous for her philosophy of
objectivism and her novels fountainhead and atlas shrugged) In their life frank was absolutely depended on ayn
rand for money.his income was very low and not earning many times.he was an actor but used to get very few roles
mostly through ayn rand only. She loved him very much their marriage lasted for many years.

he used to jokingly calls himself i am Mr.Ayn Rand. Interestingly Rand started affair with nathaniel branden who was
25 years younger than her.Rand started affair by openly telling to frank taking his consent and setting rules for meeting
with branden twice in a week.Nathaneil also took permission from his wife barbra branden for keeping sexual relationship with rand.
Now after some years dispute occurred between rand and branden she left branden.

Now the point is if any human being male or female can live independently if he is financially dependent on anyone ?
can one take any decision even on his own ? can such person,s consent is having any value?
whether he accepts or rejects does it at all matter to the person on whom one is financially depending?

I always wonder the value of frank o conor,s 'consent' which was 'extracted' from him by ayn rand.

Any human (male/female) can not just live without at least basic money.There is no freedom basically.And there exactly is a problem
That serial guy must earn money to be free to lead his own life by own philosophy.how is it possible for anyone to hold
even some philosphy if he is depending on others for basic survival.

If we consider the stages of development in humans as survival then stability then success & finally self actualization
then one who is not earning money just can not survive today he cant even physically exists so one who is struggling with basic survival or
depending on some one else for it just cant achieve any further stage of development.For this purpose (whether he loves his
wife or not is really not concerned here )he should act to earn money.

even all the feminists from simone de beauvoir till date puts forward one common point that to make woman free from bondage
first she must be financially independent.But i think it applies to both men and women.Nobody must be slave of anyone.It is
every humans duty to sustain his physical and then further development.

I think it is an existential question rather man woman relationship matter.

And you created hunger in my mind to read this book of 'dipankar gupta' thanks for reference.Also how sensitively you
understand senior citizen's needs and understands the importance of TV in their lonely empty life. especially when everybody
criticizes TV. It also reminded me great great soap episodes of book'Aunt Julia and scriptwriter' written by Maria vargas LLosa
a nobel prize winner Latin american author.the only difference is they were Radio Serials.

Aniruddha G. Kulkarni said...

Deepak, I don't like Ayn Rand but the story you narrate is very appropriate.

The issue of money you bring up too is very, very important. I may write another post just on that subject. I often think if only women in our society were financially independent, if only they could go back to their parents with no stigma attached, if only all of them had their own house to live in...

Thanks again for adding so much of value to my post...best