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, June 29, 2014

Strong Balance Sheet of Shripad Krushna Kolhatkar

Today June 29 2014 is 143rd Birth Anniversary of Shripad Krushna Kolhatkar ( श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर), the best humorist in Marathi and one of the greatest India produced. 

When I saw the following on FB page of Amar Chitra Katha studio, I was reminded of Kolhatkar's Marathi essay: "Chitraguptacha Jamakharch" (चित्रगुप्ताचा जमाखर्च), first published more than 100 years ago.




 I am enclosing a scanned copies of a couple of pages of Kolhatkar essay.

For me, most of Shripad Krushna's humour, who has appeared on this blog a few times earlier, remains ever so fresh!



Thursday, June 26, 2014

एक झाड, दोन पक्षी...Vertigo of Lynd Ward and Alfred Hitckcok

Today June 26 2014 is 109th Birth Anniversary of  Lynd Ward

I saw Alfred Hitchcock 'Vertigo', 1958  in Mumbai at New Empire or Excelsior during 1984-87. I immediately fell in love with it. I liked its haunting quality most. 

Without reading anything about it, I knew it was a great film. But I did not know three things about it 

…  that it was perhaps the greatest film ever made, 

...that it had come back into circulation only in 1983, and 

...that Kim Novak wears no brassiere in the film.
  
I also did not know that one of the greatest graphic novel too is also named  'Vertigo', 1937 by Lynd Ward.
 
Maria Popova writes about the novel:

" His last graphic novel, Vertigo (1937), was an absolute masterpiece, a pinnacle of this unique art of contrast, of light and darkness, both literally and metaphorically.


Brimming with powerful Depression-era images, it is also ironically relevant today, illustrating this same urgency unrest in the context of our contemporary economic downturn.."


Ward explained why the title "Vertigo":

"(It) was meant to suggest that the illogic of what we saw happening all around us in the thirties was enough to send the mind spinning  through space and the emotions hurtling from great hope to the depths of despair." 

Vertigo tells the story of three characters: The Girl, The Boy and An Elderly Gentleman...The Girl has a dream of becoming a concert violinist...


                                                                       The Girl

When I read the above in September 2013, I said this must be one of the rare examples where two of the very best in their respective fields are called "Vertigo".
 




The Girl and The Boy (Kim Novak and James Stewart)


Martin Scorsese on the film on August 15 2013:

"...For many years, it was extremely difficult to see Vertigo. When it came back into circulation, in 1983, along with four other Hitchcock films that had been held back, the color was completely wrong. The color scheme of Vertigo is extremely unusual, and this was a major disappointment. In the meantime, the elements—the original picture and sound negatives—needed serious attention.

Ten years later, Bob Harris and Jim Katz did a full-scale restoration for Universal. By that time, the elements were decaying and severely damaged. But at least a major restoration was done. As the years went by, more and more people saw Vertigo and came to appreciate its hypnotic beauty and very strange, obsessive focus.

As in the case of many great films, maybe all of them, we don’t keep going back for the plot. Vertigo is a matter of mood as much as it’s a matter of storytelling—the special mood of San Francisco where the past is eerily alive and around you at all times, the mist in the air from the Pacific that refracts the light, the unease of the hero played by James Stewart, Bernard Herrmann’s haunting score. As the film critic B. Kite wrote, you haven’t really seen Vertigo until you’ve seen it again. For those of you who haven’t seen it even once, when you do, you’ll know what I mean. 

Every decade, the British film magazine Sight and Sound conducts a poll of critics and filmmakers from around the world and asks them to list what they think are the ten greatest films of all time. Then they tally the results and publish them. In 1952, number one was Vittorio de Sica’s great Italian Neorealist picture Bicycle Thieves. Ten years later, Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane was at the top of the list. It stayed there for the next forty years. Last year, it was displaced by a movie that came and went in 1958, and that came very, very close to being lost to us forever: Vertigo..."
 

p.s.

If you like Ms. Novak the way I do, you may see another picture of her on this blog here. I also found the following wonderful picture of her on FB in November 2013:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

तेथ चंद्रबिंब दिसे आंतुडलें...Moon- Net, Venus- Mirror, Moon-Mirror, Mirror-Moon

Today June 21 2014 is the day of arrival of  palkhi's of Saint Dnyaneshwar and Saint Tukaram in Pune. For a couple of days, the city will be like the moon in a fisherman's net.
 

Moon in Mirror-I:

ज्ञानेश्वरी:

"जें जाळ जळीं पांगिलें तेथ चंद्रबिंब दिसे आंतुडलें
परि थडिये काढूनि झाडिलें तेव्हां बिंब कें सांगे १३८ ॥"

(Dnyaneshwari:  The moon's reflection appears to be caught in a fisherman's net in the sea, but when the net is brought to the shore and shaken, where is the reflection?)

 Moon in Mirror-II:

" ...It was early night hours, and was a full moon day. The Mother had taken Rama to Royal garden enclosure. She was showing the full moon to Rama, while trying to feed Him. Sri Rama also behaved like any other child, shaking His face here and other, reluctant to take food into His mouth. Suddenly Sri Rama started to cry. He showed the Full Moon to His mother, and wanted her to bring the moon to Him. A bewildered Mother knew not what to do. Suddenly an idea struck her mind. She asked her maids to bring a large mirror from inside the Palace. She held out the mirror in such a way that the moon was reflected..."

 Venus in Mirror:




Artist: Diego Velázquez,  'The Rokeby Venus', c 1648–1651

Location: National Gallery, London

Mirror on Moon:


The Times of India, May 28 2011:

"LONDON: Japanese scientists have unveiled plans to turn the moon into a gigantic mirrorball manned by robots to provide all the Earth's energy needs. The ambitious project would result in 13,000 terawatts of continuous solar energy being transmitted back to receiving stations on Earth, either by laser or microwave..."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

आप्पलपोट्या राक्षसाची गोष्ट... Gopal Dutt Kulkarni's The Selfish Giant

 Today June 18 2014 is 78th Birthday of my father Gopal Dutt Kulkarni (गोपालदत्त कुलकर्णी)

 “And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, 'You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.” 

― Oscar Wilde, The Selfish Giant, May 1888




Simon Sebag Montefiore, ‘Titans of History’, 2012:
“...The Picture of Dorian Gray, the novel Wilde published in 1889, pushed the limits of respectability with its themes of decay, cruelty and illicit love, causing Wilde’s wife, Constance, to remark that “since Oscar wrote that book no one invites us anywhere anymore.” Yet it is a timelessly sensitive and affecting evocation of our fears of death and aging. Even his fairy tales, The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant, do not shy away from the unpalatable reality of cruelty going unpunished and heroism unrewarded...”

My father translated a bunch of Oscar Wilde stories for kids. They form his book "डाळिंबाचे दाणे "(Dalimbache Dane). It is dedictaed to us- his children. I simply adored the book and read it dozens of times.


The first story in the collection is "The Selfish Giant". He called it  'Appalpotya Rakshasachi Gosht' (आप्पलपोट्या राक्षसाची गोष्ट).

It made me cry every time I read it. My father had poured his heart into it.



 courtesy: Facebook page on Oscar Wilde


'The Selfish Giant' Illustration for the first edition, May 1988 by  Artist: Walter Crane (1845–1915)


Artist: Jobr, FB page of Oscar Wilde

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Not All In Line? Saul Steinberg @100

Today June 15 2014 is 100th Birth Anniversary of one of the greatest cartoonists of all time: Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg: "I am a writer who draws."

Bob Mankoff:

"When Steinberg did the cartoon of the two men duelling in the mouth of a giant alligator, and the one with the assortment of question marks, in the early sixties, his cartoons became equal parts philosophy and art, and no part mirth.

And, truthfully, if this evolution in Steinberg’s style hadn’t happened, there wouldn’t be a five-hundred-and-ninety-one-page tome about him.

But I must admit that I’m a big fan of his early cartoons..."

Vasant Sarwate's (वसंत सरवटे) is very fond of the late Saul Steinberg's cartoons, particularly his later ones

In his book 'Vyangkala- Chitrakala', 2005 ('व्यंगकला - चित्रकला'), he says this about Saul Steinberg's  cartoon above:

"चित्र पाहताक्षणीच आपल्याला यातली गफलत ध्यानात येवून गंमत वाटते. मागाहून अधिक विचार केल्यावर त्यातला खोल अर्थ कळायला लागतो. जगात निर्भेळ सत्याचा आग्रह धरण्यात अर्थ नाही; तसे संपूर्णपणे सत्य कुठेही मिळणे अशक्य आहे व परिस्थिती आपण स्वीकारल्याखेरीज इलाज नाही. असा काहीसा विचार हे चित्र सुचवते."

(The moment we see the picture we are amused by realizing error in it. Later when one thinks one starts to get the deeper meaning to it. There is no point demanding the absolute truth in this world; that kind of truth is impossible to attain anywhere and there is no remedy other than accepting the reality. The picture suggests such kind of thoughts.)  

So what was the truth (or TUTH?) about the life of the cartoonist himself? 

Deirdre Bair tries to answer it in 'Saul Steinberg: A Biography'.

What do some of the reviews of the book say?

JANET MASLIN, The New York Times, December 13 2012:

"...The overly protective Saul Steinberg Foundation did Steinberg a huge disservice by forcing Ms. Bair to paraphrase documents and denying her the right to reprint more than a smattering of his art.

Those obstacles might not have been wholly insurmountable, but Ms. Bair does a flat job of paraphrasing, and she displays scant critical insight into the many tics, motifs and obsessions that run throughout Steinberg’s work. She also fails to convey any sense of the vaunted Steinberg charisma — although, as she says in an afterword, interviewees would typically smile at his memory and say something like, “What a wonderful man he was, and oh, how I miss him!” The wonderful man is absent from “Saul Steinberg.” In his place is a cranky, abrasive misanthrope who somehow made himself popular with many big droppable names..."

 'cranky, abrasive misanthrope'? So did he  look like this?


courtesy: The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 A Saul Steinberg drawing that was published in The New Yorker in 1954

 DEBORAH SOLOMON says about the book:

"...Who was Saul Steinberg? His acquaintances thought of him as an elegant dandy who seemed catlike in his refinement. In his prime, he lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, dined out most every night and held forth at dinner parties with piquant erudition and wit. But behind the thick glasses and mandarin mask lay a haunted figure, a fearful man who visited indignities upon himself and those around him. As Bair reveals, his love life was a string of infidelities, and crabbiness was his default mood...

...By then he had met Hedda Sterne, an abstract painter and fellow Romanian émigré who valued books and reading as much as he did. Together, they practiced speaking English and declared a moratorium on their native Romanian, “a language of beggars and policemen,” as Steinberg scoffed. They married in 1944, at City Hall in Manhattan. Just a few weeks later, they were entertaining a pregnant friend when Sterne looked out from the kitchen into an adjoining room and was startled to see her husband passionately kissing their guest. “In a way, sex was his life,” Sterne later said. “He deprived himself of true union because he was not ever in love.”..."

(The New York Times, November 21 2012)


JONATHAN LOPEZ says in WSJ, November 30 2012:

"...He pursued affairs and even propositioned the teenage daughters of acquaintances, for which he was reprimanded by outraged parents. On one occasion, according to Ms. Bair, he invited a friend's 19-year-old daughter—a girl he had known since she was in diapers—to spend a weekend in the Hamptons in order, he said, to enjoy some time in the country. Drawing upon her interview with the girl—now an adult—Ms. Bair informs us that "in the middle of the night, she woke up, 'petrified with fear,' to find him in her bed. He embraced her, but she 'froze and wouldn't budge,' until he eventually 'just sort of gave up and went to his own bed...'"

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaalllllll!!!!! or Nil-Nil





MATTHEW A. KENT, ‘Aristotle’s Favorite Sport’:


 ...There’s a more complete way to explain why soccer is the best sport. Remember that there are four ways of answering the question “Why?”

First, there’s the material cause of soccer—what “stuff” is a soccer game made of? What’s the “matter” with soccer?

Think of the field, the ball, the eleven players per team, and the lone referee. Each of these physical components, in its own way, makes soccer able to fulfill the purposes of sports better than any other sport can.

A soccer field is much wider and longer than a basketball court or a hockey rink. The players are expected to cover an enormous area of turf. Yet, unlike other big-field sports (say, baseball or cricket), soccer demands almost constant running. The field’s dimensions never quite allow any of the twenty-two players to feel completely removed from the action. This produces more exercise and more recreation for all of them. A player’s physical exertion and mental attention are required by the game practically one hundred percent of the time.

The field, the ball, and the jerseys in soccer are also exceptionally suitable for the theatrical purposes of sports. The field is large enough to dominate a spectator’s view, including peripheral vision. The vast expanse of bright green grass is pleasing to the eye. But whether you’re seated in the back corner of the upper deck or next to the head of FIFA in a luxury suite overlooking midfield, you can always see what’s going on. The ball is large enough to be easily visible from a distance (unlike a hockey puck). The jerseys are colorful and graceful, with different designs from time to time for variety. All of this delights the senses. Aristotle indicates that such pleasures are very natural (Poetics, Chapter 4)…”
 
 Leon de Winter:


"Football is a form of insanity. You can express feelings that are normally repressed. You identify with top athletes as though they are warriors. We all want to be warriors and to kill the other team. Shooting the ball into the goal is ritualized rape; our archaic impulses come to the fore."



"...Football is working-class ballet. It’s an experience of enchantment. For an hour and a half, a different order of time unfolds and one submits oneself to it. A football game is a temporal rupture with the routine of the everyday: ecstatic, evanescent and, most importantly, shared. At its best, football is about shifts in the intensity of experience. At times, it’s like Spinoza on maximizing intensities of existence. At other times, it’s more like Beckett’s Godot, where nothing happens twice.."
 
I love the world cup and consider myself plain lucky that I get to see it on TV.

I remember how my 8-year-old son started crying when the 2002 FIFA world cup ended on June 30. I too wanted to join him but I only hugged him.



Eduardo Galeano says "Tell me how you play and I will tell you who you are.". 

Mr. Galeano, Although my son is a football nut and plays it actively, I play football only in my daydreams, I have even attended some great matches there. And you are right, I am a day-dreamer!


  
Football originated in China and by women?

'Court Ladies in the Inner Palace' , circa. 1465-1509

Artist: Du Jin