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, October 27, 2013

Ashok Shahane Confesses and I Feel Cheated

W H Auden:

"...Should you have troubles (pets will die,
Lovers are always behaving badly)
And confession helps, we will hear it,
Examine and give our counsel :
If to mention them hurts too much,
We shall not be nosey..."


Loksatta (लोकसत्ता) dated October 7 2013:

"मराठी कवितेला जागतिक परिमाण मिळवून देणारे ज्येष्ठ कवी अरुण कोलटकर यांची कविता  प्रसिद्ध करताना प्रकाशकाची कोणतीही परवानगी न घेतल्याने, तसेच कवितेखाली प्रकाशकाचा उल्लेख न केल्याने, हा स्वामित्वहक्क (कॉपीराइट) कायद्याचा भंग आहे, हा मराठी साहित्य व्यवहारातील गैर प्रकारांवर क्ष-किरण टाकणारे ज्येष्ठ समीक्षक, प्रास प्रकाशनाचेअशोक शहाणे यांचा दावा मान्य करत मुंबई उच्च न्यायालयाने 'सकाळ' या वर्तमानपत्राला माफीनामा प्रसिद्ध करण्याचे तसेच खटल्याचा खर्चही शहाणे यांना देण्याचे आदेश दिले आहेत."

(Bombay High Court, agreeing to the plea of Pras publication's Ashok Shahane- a senior critic who put an X-ray on misdemeanors in Marathi literature- that publishing a poem of senior poet Arun Kolatkar- who gave an international dimension to Marathi poetry-without obtaining any permission from the publisher and not mentioning publisher's name under the poem is a violation of copyright act, has ordered 'Sakal' newspaper to publish an apology as well as pay Shahane legal fees.)

The news above was on the front page of the paper. I had to read it because it mentioned Arun Kolatkar. I could never understand why it was on the front page. But I said, I didn't understand most of what happened around me and this was one of them.

The court ruling, as I understand it, says that newspaper Sakal (सकाळ) should have, among other things, mentioned the publisher of Kolatkar's poem. Remember,  Sakal has mentioned the name of the poet.

Let us now turn to 'X-ray on misdemeanors in Marathi literature' mentioned in the news above. 

Ashok Shahane (अशोक शहाणे) has written an essay in Loksatta (लोकसत्ता) October 27 2013.

The essay is in 'celebration' of 50th anniversary of his 'own' essay titled 'आजकालच्या मराठी वाङ्मयावर 'क्ष'- किरण' (X-Ray on Marathi literature of these days) dated November/December 1963, first published in Marathi periodical Manohar (मनोहर).

What a huge disappointment it turned out be.

Right now, I give only two reasons: there is nothing new there and his confession.

The essay is largely a rehash of what he has already said in the past. He has got nothing new to say.

But more serious thing for me is his 'confession'.


He says in the essay:

"...या लेखाचा पहिला- म्हणजे जो तात्त्विक भाग आहे, तो मी लिहिलेला आहे. मराठी साहित्याच्या संदर्भातला भाग मी आणि नेमाडय़ांनी मिळून लिहिलेला आहे. त्यातलं माझं किती आणि नेमाडय़ांचं किती, असं नाही सांगता येणार. नेमाडे साहित्याचाच विद्यार्थी असल्यामुळे त्याला सगळी माहिती होती. त्यामुळे ते र्अधमरुध नेमाडय़ांचंच आहे..."

(...the first part of the essay,  that is philosophical, I have written it. The part about Marathi literature is written jointly by me and Nemade. How much is mine and how much is Nemade's can't be specified. Since Nemade was the student of literature, he knew every thing. So about half is Nemade's...)

The essay is now part of his much celebrated book 'Napeksha' (नपेक्षा) published by Lokvangmay Gruha first in April 2005 and then in January 2008. (I have occasionally quoted from the book on this blog.)

I have the second edition in front of me. The book starts with the said essay.

Nowhere in the book Mr. Shahane says that Mr. Bhalchandra Nemade (भालचंद्र नेमाडे) has generously contributed to the essay.

So the reader is told exactly after 50 years that what she thought was entirely Shahane's (then a young man) is partly someone else's!


If one has to compare this to the Sakal episode mentioned at the top, one may argue that, unlike Kolatkar,  Nemade was (perhaps) a willing party to Shahane's act.

I agree with the logic but shouldn't a reader be told about this 'joint venture' as early as possible, at least when the book 'Napeksha' containing the said essay came out in April 2005?

If I knew this, I would not have even read the essay because I can read Nemade's views on Marathi literature elsewhere, such as in 'Teekaswayamvar' (टीकास्वयंवर).

I feel such a 'joint venture' may also violate the integrity of the essay. Shahane says 'Nemade was the student of literature, he knew every thing'. What it means is: he did not know some things. In that case, why did he make some sweeping statements in the essay? Why couldn't he wait a few more years, read/study as much as Nemade and then write the essay?

I feel kind of cheated reading Shahane's confession. And wonder if he still has some more unsaid confessions.



Artist: Joseph Farris, The New Yorker, 24 January 1983

p.s.

1> This is being written on January 5 2014.

On January 4 2014, I read Vilas Sarang's (विलास सारंग) essay 'Lekhakrao Nemade' (लेखकराव नेमाडे), now part of his book 'Lihitya Lekhakache Vachan' (लिहित्या लेखकाचं  वाचन), 2011. (I kept laughing loudly reading it.)

Sarang writes:

"...शहाणेंच्या 'क्ष-किरण' लेखाने बेपर्वा शेरेबाजी करण्याची पद्धत रूढ केली. ती इतरांबरोबरच नेमाडेंनी आपलीशी केली..."

(...Shahane's article established the method of cavalier commenting. Nemade adopted it along with the others...)

Sarang probably did not know that one half of 'Shahane's article'  belonged to Nemade in any case. Therefore, Nemade didn't have to adopt the style of 'cavalier commenting' (बेपर्वा शेरेबाजी). He co-invented it!


2> This is being written on January 23 2014.

Ek Regh blog says on January 23 2014: "शहाण्यांच्या 'आजकालच्या मराठी वाङ्मयावर क्ष किरण' या १९६३ साली गाजलेल्या लेखाच्या घडणीत भालचंद्र नेमाडे यांचा हातभार आहे, हे शहाण्यांनीच त्यांच्या 'नपेक्षा' या पुस्तकाच्या प्रकाशनावेळी २००५मध्ये उघड केलं होतं."

My response to that: "Sure he 'disclosed' it decades after the essay was published but could not he 'announce' it as a part of the book when it was published or when its second edition came out in 2008?"