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, October 21, 2014

तरी पंपतो फिबस काळोख...Phoebus The God of Light Pumps Darkness


Today October 21 2014 marks the beginning of the festival of lights- Diwali (दिवाळी)

B S Mardhekar (बा. सी. मर्ढेकर): 


"...पंक्चरली जरि रात्र दिव्यांनीं,

तरी पंपतो कुणी काळोख; ..."

("...Punctured though night is by light-bulbs,

 Some one still pumps darkness ;..")

This year (2014) the Nobel prize in physics goes to Isamu Akasaki, Meijo University and Nagoya University, Hiroshi Amano, Nagoya University, and Shuji Nakamura, University of California, Santa Barbara, for inventing the blue light emitting diode (blue LED) 20 years ago…“Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps,” notes a statement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel Prizes.

Wikipedia: "Apollo, like other Greek deities, had a number of epithets applied to him, reflecting the variety of roles, duties, and aspects ascribed to the god. However, while Apollo has a great number of appellations in Greek myth, only a few occur in Latin literature, chief among them Phoebus which was very commonly used by both the Greeks and Romans in Apollo's role as the god of light."

Thomas Pynchon, 'Gravity’s Rainbow', 1973 is considered one of the greatest books of 20th century I have still not read it.

Paris Review informed me this month how the book talked about “Phoebus”, an international light-bulb cartel.

"Phoebus fixes the prices and determines the operational lives of all the bulbs in the world, from Brazil to Japan to Holland..."

But  Phoebus is NOT Pynchon's imagination. It really existed!

Markus Krajewski informs on September 24 2014 in IEEE Spectrum:

"On 23 December 1924, a group of leading international businessmen gathered in Geneva for a meeting that would alter the world for decades to come. Present were top representatives from all the major lightbulb manufacturers, including Germany’s Osram, the Netherlands’ Philips, France’s Compagnie des Lampes, and the United States’ General Electric. As revelers hung Christmas lights elsewhere in the city, the group founded the Phoebus cartel, a supervisory body that would carve up the worldwide incandescent lightbulb market, with each national and regional zone assigned its own manufacturers and production quotas. It was the first cartel in history to enjoy a truly global reach...."

And concludes on a grim note:

"...True, today’s lighting industry is much larger and more diverse than it was in the 1920s and ’30s, and government monitoring of collusive behavior is more vigilant. Nevertheless, the allure for businesses to cooperate in such a market is strong. And the Phoebus cartel shows how it could succeed."


'Is he Phoebus'

Image courtesy: Philips Company Archives

As I looked at the picture above and re-read lines from Mardhekar's poem, they assumed a new meaning.

Is that towering figure- who looks like Lee Falk's Phantom- the god Phoebus?

 Mardhekar says some one is pumping darkness...तरी पंपतो फिबस काळोख... Is Phoebus doing that? A god spreading darkness instead of light...Mardhekar might have liked this twist!

Isn't any such carteling activity ethically equivalent to pumping of darkness? Isn't this an integral shadowy side of current version of capitalism?

"पंक्चरली जरि रात्र दिव्यांनीं, तरी पंपतो कुणी काळोख;…"

These lines by Mardhekar, which appear in the very first post of this blog, are indeed a powerful metaphor. They are funny and poignant. I never thought they would come handy here.

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