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."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Breasts Are Us...स्तनौ मांसग्रंथी


 भर्तृहरी : 

"स्तनौ मांसग्रन्थी कनककलशावित्युपमितौ …" 

[16, 'वैराग्यशतक' ,  साधारण इसवी सना चे पाचवे शतक ]

(वामन पंडितांचा  मराठी अनुवाद

"सोन्याचे कुंभ  हे की म्हणवुनि  वदती  गोठले मांस  त्याला")

Florence Williams:


"...Breasts are living a life they’ve never lived before.


Fortunately, scientists are beginning to unveil the secrets of breasts, and with those secrets, a new way of looking at human health and our decidedly complicated place in nature. To understand the transformation, we need to go back in time, to the very beginning. We must first ask, Why breasts? Why us? We share 98 percent of our genes with chimps, but among that immeasurable 2 percent are the ones governing breasts. Chimps, unlucky sods, don’t have them. In fact, we are the only primates so endowed with soft orbs from puberty onward. Other female primates develop small swellings while lactating, but they deflate after weaning. Breasts are a defining trait of humanity, and mammary glands define our entire taxonomic class. Carolus Linnaeus understood. That’s why he named us mammals.


Breasts are us..."

('Breasts : a natural and unnatural history', 2012)


"शाळेची जिना उतरून रोस्याकडे धाव घेणारी नाचणेबाई वावटळीत गरगरत वर जाणारे पान बनली होती. 

तिथल्या तिथे अंगातून काढलेली ब्रेसियर त्या पंधरा-सोळा वर्षाच्या कारट्याच्या थोबाडावर, गालफाडांवर, डोळ्यांवर चाबकासारखी फडाफडा बसते आहे आणि सुजलेले डोळे तरीही रोखून पाहताहेत. छातीवर भारभूत वाटणारे मांसाचे गोळे चिखल बनताहेत आणि त्या भुकाळू चेहऱ्यावर धपाधप चिखल पडतो आहे.

               घराकडे जाण्यासाठी ती जिना उतरत होती त्यावेळी तो कठड्याशी रेलून समोरच उभा होत. त्याने शब्दांची पिंक टाकण्यापूर्वी आपल्या ब्लाउजमध्ये रोखून वाकून पाहिलेले असणार. छातीवर दृष्टी ठेवूनच तो बोलला होता,

                               'बाई, तुमचे बॉल काय टॉप आहेत.'... "

('स्तनौ मांसग्रंथी', आ ना पेडणेकर, 'आ ना पेडणेकर यांच्या निवडक कथा', संपादक: विलास सारंग, 2011)

['Stanau Mansgranthi', A N Pednekar, 'Aa Na Pednekar yanchya nivdak katha', editor: Vilas Sarang]



Bart (after Shauna shows him her breasts, thought): "Oh, my God! It's just like Dad's! "

He could have also said: "बाई, तुमचे  XX काय टॉप आहेत."
  
("Beware My Cheating Bart" is the eighteenth episode of Season 23 of The Simpsons. It originally aired on April 15, 2012)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Poet, Novelist, Painter <<< Graphic Novelist


Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे) writes in Marathi (मराठी) magazine Lalit (ललित) September 2013:

"...in summation, it can be said that Marathi person enjoys auditory experience more than visual experience An average Marathi person engrosses in music very well. Very little in pictures. Almost none. It's certainly true of ordinary people. But even those writers, poets and critics who are celebrated in Marathi literature, are well known for their talent can't see pictures on the cover and those (if they exist) inside. Let the book be of the other authors' or their own ! Then appreciating them remains a remote thing..."

("...एकूणात, मराठी माणसाला दृश्यापेक्षा श्राव्य अनुभव अधिक भावतात, असं म्हणता येईल. सामान्य मराठी माणूस संगीतामध्ये उत्तम रंगतो. चित्रांच्यामध्ये फारच कमी. जवळजवळ नाहीच. सर्वसामान्यांच्या बाबतीत  तर हे खर आहेच. पण मराठीमध्ये साहित्याचे जाणकार म्हणून किर्ती मिळवलेल्या , प्रतिभावंत म्हणून मान्यता प्राप्त झालेल्या लेखक, कवी, टीकाकार यांना मुखपृष्ठावरच आणि (असतील तर) पुस्तकाच्या आतील चित्र दिसतच नाहीत. पुस्तक इतर लेखकांचे असो किंवा त्याचं स्वतःच असो ! मग त्यांचा आस्वाद घेण तर दूरच...")

 I have already written more than one post on the subject. Most volubly here on November 9 2010.

I wish to give another example before I go ahead.

I often read parts of  G A Kulkarni's (जी ए कुलकर्णी) book 'Pinglavel' (पिंगळावेळ). I have a copy of its first edition published in 1972. Its cover is striking. 

I noted recently that the book does not even mention who the cover artist is! One has to figure out from the artist's signature on the cover. And this is from the author who, according to Vasant Sarwate, was a man of learning in visual arts and was himself a painter of some caliber.



Artist: the late Prabhakar Gore (प्रभाकर गोरे)

 
 Art Spiegelman wrote on October 13 2010:

"...In a pervasively influential eighteenth-century essay, Laocoon: or The limits of Poetry and Painting, by the German aesthetician, Gotthold Lessing, Western culture was admonished against confusing between the nature of poetry or prose—written forms whose province is time, and the nature of visual forms like painting and sculpture, whose province is spatial..."

Since Marathi people enjoy music so much, is music too a form whose province is time and NOT spatial? And is there an art form that works well in both the provinces of time and space?


"...Nothing could violate this long-held aesthetic taboo more directly than comics, a kind of picture-writing—the very layout of a comics artist’s page insists on pulling the reader from one drawing to the next. (Lynd) Ward also trafficked in time, of course, but by inviting the eye to rest on each isolated composition—unsullied by written language—he was sneakier about it..."
 


Artist: Lynd Ward

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Tragedy of German Genius... And its Review!


Social scientist Wilhelm Heitmeyer has been publishing studies on German attitudes for a decade. In a SPIEGEL interview, he discusses his latest results, which show that Germans' relationship to minorities and the disadvantaged has become increasingly hostile.

SPIEGEL: Professor Heitmeyer, you have been studying the condition of the Germans for the last 10 years. How are we doing?

Heitmeyer: Not very well. The growing social divide is corroding the sense of community, and society is poisoned. Social disintegration is dangerous, especially for disadvantaged groups. Substantial segments of society believe that they are more valuable than others. Only those who achieve something, who are useful and efficient, count for something.

SPIEGEL: Hasn't that always been the case?

Heitmeyer: Yes, but the principle of rationality, which has its place in the economy, has increasingly permeated our thinking, finding its way into living rooms, schools and social relationships. This application of economic principles to the valuation of human beings is inhumane. Immigrants, the homeless, the long-term unemployed, the disabled, all of these people are worth less than others according to these standards. 

SPIEGEL: How do elites treat the weak?

Heitmeyer: Significant segments the elites and higher earners are increasingly withdrawing from a mutually supportive society. They claim the privileges of the establishment, and they fight against a minimum wage, the wealth tax and the inheritance tax, even though the policies of redistribution have been in their favor for years. This is class warfare from above. It shows that the core standards of this society are in great jeopardy. Some 64 percent of society believes that striving for justice is pointless. Solidarity and fairness, values that are vital to the cohesion of a society, are being eroded.
December 14 2011

Niall Ferguson and Nouriel Roubini, 12 June 2012:

"...We find it extraordinary that it should be Germany, of all countries, that is failing to learn from history. Fixated on the non-threat of inflation, today's Germans appear to attach more importance to the year 1923 (the year of hyperinflation) than to the year 1933 (the year democracy died). They would do well to remember how a European banking crisis two years before 1933 contributed directly to the breakdown of democracy not just in their own country but right across the European continent..."
     

Peter Watson in chapter titled 'The German Ideology And The Future Of Human Nature':


"...is Germany itself always to remain unredeemable? Perhaps Norbert Elias was correct in saying that the country cannot move ahead until a convincing explanation for the rise of Hitler has been given..."
 
Brooke Allen:

"Not many people can remember the year 1945. For those of us who were born well after World War II, into a world governed, however imperfectly, by entities like the United Nations, the European Union, the International Criminal Court, and the World Bank, the scale of pure chaos during that fateful year is unimaginable. Many millions lay dead. Beyond the murder of 6 million Jews, 8 million Soviet soldiers and 16 million Soviet civilians had been killed; in China, 10 million civilians. At war's end, 8 million "displaced persons" were stuck in Germany, 3.5 million in other parts of Europe. Six and a half million Japanese were stranded in Asia and the Pacific, a million enslaved Korean workers in Japan."
 
Marathi daily Loksatta (लोकसत्ता has reviewed Peter Watson's 'The German Genius: Europe's Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the Twentieth Century', 2011 on September 21 2013.

First some funny things.
 
The reviewer says "...‘द जर्मन जीनियस’ या पुस्तकाच्या शोधात बरेच दिवस होतो. लंडनला सापडलं..." (I was in search of  'The German Genius'. Found it in London.). 

I wonder why. I did casual search on internet. I started with Amazon.in. I found it right there on my screen. It (paperback edition) costed only Rs. 402 on Sept 21 2013 much lower than the price of British Pound 9.99 given at the end of the review. 

We of course conclude reading the review that the reviewer has been to Germany a few times and (probably) drops by London to pick up books. I envy him.

The review itself is disappointing.

The world will in less than a year's time observe the 100th anniversary of the start of the World War I. 20th century is the bloodiest century in the history of mankind and the principal party responsible for it is the nation of Germany.

Therefore, although I understand that there is a lot more to Germany than those wars, how can you avoid the subject? Has that unprecedented violence anything to do with their so-called 'genius'? Shouldn't you be raising these questions?


David Crossland says:

"...Few would disagree that Germany as a nation has worked hard to atone for its past, unlike Austria and Japan which have cloaked themselves in denial. Germany has paid an estimated €70 billion in compensation for the suffering it caused, conducts solemn ceremonies to commemorate the victims and, above all, has owned up to what was done in its name.


Companies and government ministries have opened up their archives to historians to illuminate their role in the Third Reich, and a late push in prosecutions of war criminals is underway to make up for the failure to bring them to justice in the decades after the war.


But millions never confronted their own personal role as cogs in the Nazi machinery..."

Therefore, a lot remains to be done or was never done.

The review mentions  William L. Shirer's book.  Ron Rosenbaum observes:

"....Shirer does not condemn Germans as Germans. He’s faithful to the idea that all men are created equal, but he won’t accede to the relativistic notion that all ideas are equal as well, and in bringing Fichte and Poetsch to the fore, he forces our attention on how stupid and evil ideas played a crucial role in Hitler’s development..."
As the Loksatta reviewer brings Mercedes to the fore, can we be sure that even today "stupid and evil ideas" are not lurking close behind?
Reviewing this book for The New York Times, Brain Ladd  has said:
"...Even if Heidegger hadn’t been a Nazi, we would still face the question of whether Hitler was the nemesis or the culmination of German genius. Just as Mann had to acknowledge Goebbels as his bastard child, Watson knows that Germany cannot disown the Nazis. He borrows many different and contradictory theories of the German catastrophe, variously suggesting that the educated middle class was too weak to stop Hitler, that it abdicated its responsibility to do so and that its antipolitical ideals taught a nation to welcome a charlatan’s promises of a redemptive community. 

Yet no history of ideas can explain the tragedy of German genius. Hitler may have fancied himself a great thinker, but his success came from his brilliance as a political tactician in a troubled time. Intellectuals admired (or feared) him for his ability to seduce millions of voters who knew nothing of Kant or Heidegger. Watson gives us a compilation of German ideas; a history of the German genius would be a different and dicier matter..."
Artist: Rea Gardner, The New Yorker, 10 November 1945

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Turning Statue of Unity On Her Side...

The Times of India / PTI, September 19 2013:

"Jnanpith awardee and acclaimed Kannada writer Dr UR Ananthamurthy has said he will not live in a country with Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, triggering angry reactions from BJP which said he was free to leave India..."
 

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, The Times of India, November 25 2012:

"...I can only say that the killings of 1948 cannot possibly justify the killings of 2002, or 1984, or any others. Modi has blood on his hands, whether or not he was directly culpable. But why pretend that others had spotlessly clean hands? There is a macabre logic in the praises Modi has recently heaped on Patel: the two were not entirely dissimilar. Nations need to acknowledge their past errors in order to avoid them in the future. Germany acknowledged the horrors of fascism and militarism, and this helped it build a new anti-war society focused on human rights..."
 
Philips Talbot, Frontline, October 19 2007:


"...Communal elements in the Congress needed no help from the League. Nehru noted in his Autobiography in 1936 that “many a Congressman was a communalist under his nationalist garb” (page 136). That included men who came to wield power at the Centre and in the States. Patel, Pant, Sampurnanand and Tandon, Ravi Shankar Shukla, B.C. Roy and Morarji Desai besides others. Rajaji provided a sterling exception until his death..."



"In the ranks of such patriots, none showed less slackness than Vallabhbhai Patel, minister for home affairs. In a ‘marvellous and deeply touching speech before officers and men of the Royal Indian Air Force on 1 October 1948’, as a centenary volume of his writings describes it, Patel reported:


While people talk of our failing to follow Gandhiji’s teachings, I wish to give you one example which I remember from his conversation. When Srinagar was touch and go, when we wanted to put our army in Srinagar and when the air force was asked … to carry the army and all its requirements quickly, they did it with wonderful speed; and if we had been late by 24 hours, the whole game would have been lost. That is the work which you have done, which is written in letters of gold in the history of Freedom. We are proud of you. But what Gandhiji said to me was: ‘I feel so proud when I hear the noise of these aeroplanes. At one time I was feeling very miserable and oppressed when I heard this. But when this Kashmir operation began, I began to feel proud of them and every aeroplane that goes with materials and arms and ammunition and requirements of the army, I feel proud.’ [italics in original]

Patel himself, who held that ‘what nature and God had intended to be one on no account can be split in two for all times,’ had wider aims in view, as these were recalled by Elmhirst, the admiring British air marshal who served under him: ‘If all the decisions rested on me, I think I would be in favour of extending this little affair in Kashmir to a full-scale war with Pakistan … Let us get it over with once and for all and settle down as a united continent.’ Congress had accepted partition as the price of a strong centralised state in which it could be sure of a monopoly of power, but in the mind of its top leaders it was a temporary concession..." 


The Hindu on FB , September 16 2013:

"(Narendra) Modi: “We will build a statue of unity as a memorial for Sardar Patel who unified this country. This statue will be two times bigger than the Statue of Liberty.”..."





Artist: Mike Luckovich (I am using this great cartoon for the second time on this blog.)

And then one day we too can turn Statue of Unity on her side and make her an instrument of a new pogrom...
 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Echoes of Soundarya Lahari...Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini




Artist: Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini 



"How Uma Became ParvatiChange is at the heart of many religions and all good stories. 

This illustration depicts the dance through which Uma changes form into the hideous goddess Kalee - developing a third eye and dripping blood. I know that Daniela relished conveying the darkness and raw power of this scene. This illustration clearly shows the influence of Aubrey Beardsley, both in its exploration of female psychology and its striking deployment of line. Thankfully, this terrible transformation is only temporary, as Uma later becomes the beautiful Parvati"

(The Guardian, August 8 2013)

Wikipedia:

"Soundarya Lahari's hundred and three shlokas (verses) eulogize the beauty, grace and munificence of Goddess Parvati / Dakshayani, consort of Shiva."

"निसर्ग-क्षीणस्य स्तनतट-भरेण क्लमजुषो
नमन्मूर्ते र्नारीतिलक शनकै-स्त्रुट्यत इव ।
चिरं ते मध्यस्य त्रुटित तटिनी-तीर-तरुणा
समावस्था-स्थेम्नो भवतु कुशलं शैलतनये ॥ 79 ॥"


source: http://www.vignanam.org/veda/soundarya-lahari-devanagari.html

[("Oh daughter of the mountain,
You who is the greatest among women,
Long live your pretty hips,
Which look fragile,
Which are by nature tiny,
Which are strained by your heavy breasts,
And hence slightly bent,
And which look like the tree,
In the eroded banks of a rushing river."), translation by  P. R. Ramachander
     
http://shankaracharya.org/soundarya_lahari.php]