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."

Monday, September 01, 2014

Bertolt Brecht: Labor Day Remembrance: Was Young Alexander Alone?

Today September 1 2014 is  Labor Day in the US
 
Rick Perlstein, The New York Times, August 28 2014:

"...One abandoned idea documented in his (Nelson Lichtenstein) most recent book, “A Contest of Ideas: Capital, Politics, and Labor,” haunts me. Powerful people in the Democratic Party, like Senator Robert Wagner of New York, used to insist that the job of liberalism was to penetrate the “black box” of the corporation and turn the workplace into a more democratic institution..."

Bertolt Brecht (1896-1956), 1935:

"Questions From a Worker Who Reads

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ? 
And Babylon, many times demolished,
Who raised it up so many times ? 
In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ?
Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?
Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.
Who erected them ? 
Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?
Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ? 
Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves. 
The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ? 
Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him ? 
Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep ?  
Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.
Who else won it ? 
Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?  
Every 10 years a great man.
Who paid the bill ? 
So many reports.  
So many questions."



Artist:  Frank Cotham, The New Yorker, February 3 2014


I love this cartoon but on second thoughts I would modify its caption thus:

"Your people will remember you for not sacrificing  thousands of them by not building a pyramid."

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