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."

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I Want Durga Bhagwat to be in Literary Feuds!

Today May 7 2013 is 11th Death Anniversary of Durga Bhagwat  (दुर्गा भागवत)


"The sad truth about the book world is that it doesn’t need more yes-saying novelists and certainly no more yes-saying critics. We are drowning in them. What we need more of, now that newspaper book sections are shrinking and vanishing like glaciers, are excellent and authoritative and punishing critics — perceptive enough to single out the voices that matter for legitimate praise, abusive enough to remind us that not everyone gets, or deserves, a gold star."

(The New York Times, August 15 2012)


‘To some, the paucity of feuds is connected to the larger state of literary culture. “It’s not because we no longer have feuds,” said Fran Lebowitz, the writer. “It’s because we no longer have literature.” ’

(“Art of the Feud”, The New York Times, November 19 2006)

On her 10th death anniversary,  I said: I have nothing new to write about her. I still haven't.

But I miss her.

Among other things, I miss her participation in Marathi literary feuds! What a passionate critic-cum-fighter she was- "excellent, authoritative and punishing".

I still remember the way she took on the late P L Deshpande ( पु ल देशपांडे) and Mr. Govind Talwalkar (गोविंद  तळवलकर)- both then Sumo wrestlers on Maharashtra's middle class cultural mat-  on the editorial pages of "Maharashtra Times" (महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स) in 1970's.

First my father read those articles aloud and laughed. Then I read them myself. I wish they never stopped feuding! [There is one puzzle still unsolved from those days. Ms. Bhagwat had accused Mr. Talwalkar on making a pun on the name of Amte (आमटे) in personal chats. I have never figured what it could be.]

Alas, now there are no big literary feuds in Marathi.

Literary feuds can end up in a real fight. Head butting for instance.

In India this year,  we almost had one when Mr. Girish Karnad attacked Mr. V S Naipaul but sadly there was no retaliation from Mr. Naipaul and hence no fight and fun.

The sixth episode of the The Simpsons' eighteenth season "Moe'n'a Lisa" has Jonathan Franzen fighting with Michael Chabon.

"Franzen and Chabon are hysterical. They get in heated fight, Franzen breaks a table over Chabon's head, Chabon accuses him of fighting like Anne Rice"

Look at the following picture of Mr. Kaplan. Little girl is telling her mom: I don't just want to write. I want to be in literary feuds.

What an ambition! "I want to be in literary feuds" Like Durga Bhagwat, I may add!

Artist : Bruce Eric Kaplan, The New Yorker, 27 June 1994