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."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

बहिणीचे प्रेम, गाय व टोड यांचे उल्लेख...G A's Cows, Orwell's Toads and Sentimentality in Literature

Today December 11 2014 is 27th Death Anniversary of G A Kulkarni (जी. ए. कुलकर्णी, "जीए")

Gregory Crewdson:

"When you continually do the same thing in a certain sort of way—the one thing artists do whether they’re filmmakers or writers—they create an iconography of themselves, even if they’re not aware of it. It’s not until later that you realize, Oh, I use a lot of medicine bottles or a lot of nondescript cars with doors open or a lot of pregnant women, or whatever it is. You can’t give a precise sort of reason why, but after a period of time that thing just becomes part of the world you create."


Back cover of  'Jee Enchi Nivadak Patre Khand 1, 1995 and Khand 2, 1998' ('जी.एं. ची निवडक पत्रे'; खंड 1 आणि खंड 2)
 courtesy: artist Bal Thakoor (बाळ ठाकूर) and owner of copyrights to the books

There are many references to cows- its anatomy, its food (smell of fresh grass), its milk, its tears, its death  etc- in G A Kulkarni's (जी ए कुलकर्णी) stories.

G A has explained its reasons in a Marathi letter:

"… माझ्या कथात बहिणीचे प्रेम व गाय यांचे उल्लेख जरुरीपेक्षा जास्त येतात, असे मला एक टीकाकाराने  इशारा दिला आहे…लहानपणी आमच्या घरी गाय नव्हती असा एक दिवस मला आठवत नाही. गायीच्या पाठीवर हात ठेवताच होणारी तिच्या कातडीची ओळख दाखवणारी थरथर, तिचा वास, रात्री गवत टाकायला जाताना हातातील कंदिलाचा प्रकाश तिच्या  डोळ्यावर पडताच चमकणारे गडद लालसर भिंग, या आठवणी आजदेखील इतक्या स्पष्ट आहेत की त्यांतील एक हाताने उचलून मी तुम्हास देवू शकेन… या सार्या बरोबर, गाय आडवी झालेली पहिली; तिचे डोळे सतत का पाझरू लागले या विचाराने रात्रीची जेवणे तशीच रहिली.  पाण्याचे पातेले व गवताची पेंडी घेऊन समोर तासंतास काढले व शेवटी चारसहा जणांनी तिला उचलून गाडीत ठेवलेले देखील मी पाहिले.  त्यानंतर घरात गाय आली नाही…घरातून  गाय गेली, व आमचे बालपण घेऊन गेली… "

[from the book pictured above]

("...A critic has warned me that there are too many references to sisterly love and cows in my stories...There was not a day, I remember, there was no cow at our home during childhood. Quivering of her skin that showed familiarity after being touched on the back, here smell, dark reddish lens when her eyes reflected the light of lantern in hand as one went to feed grass in the night, these memories are so clear that I can hand one of them over to you...with all this, one saw flattened cow; the dinners were never eaten by the thought of why her eyes were constantly sprinkling. Hours were spent holding a bowl of water and grass chunk and finally I also saw four or six people lifting and keeping her in a vehicle. Cow then never came to the house...The cow left the house, and took away our childhood...")

 Artist: Mort Gerberg, The New Yorker
 George Orwell's "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad" is one of the best essays I have read. I keep reading it.

"...I mention the spawning of the toads because it is one of the phenomena of spring which most deeply appeal to me, and because the toad, unlike the skylark and the primrose, has never had much of a boost from poets. But I am aware that many people do not like reptiles or amphibians, and I am not suggesting that in order to enjoy the spring you have to take an interest in toads. There are also the crocus, the Mistle-Thrush, the cuckoo, the blackthorn, etc. The point is that the pleasures of spring are available to everybody, and cost nothing...

...Is it wicked to take a pleasure in spring and other seasonal changes? To put it more precisely, is it politically reprehensible, while we are all groaning, or at any rate ought to be groaning, under the shackles of the capitalist system, to point out that life is frequently more worth living because of a blackbird's song, a yellow elm tree in October, or some other natural phenomenon which does not cost money and does not have what the editors of left-wing newspapers call a class angle? There is not doubt that many people think so. I know by experience that a favourable reference to ‘Nature’ in one of my articles is liable to bring me abusive letters, and though the key-word in these letters is usually ‘sentimental’...

...two ideas seem to be mixed up in them. One is that any pleasure in the actual process of life encourages a sort of political quietism. People, so the thought runs, ought to be discontented, and it is our job to multiply our wants and not simply to increase our enjoyment of the things we have already. The other idea is that this is the age of machines and that to dislike the machine, or even to want to limit its domination, is backward-looking, reactionary and slightly ridiculous. This is often backed up by the statement that a love of Nature is a foible of urbanized people who have no notion what Nature is really like. Those who really have to deal with the soil, so it is argued, do not love the soil, and do not take the faintest interest in birds or flowers, except from a strictly utilitarian point of view. To love the country one must live in the town, merely taking an occasional week-end ramble at the warmer times of year.

This last idea is demonstrably false. Medieval literature, for instance, including the popular ballads, is full of an almost Georgian enthusiasm for Nature, and the art of agricultural peoples such as the Chinese and Japanese centre always round trees, birds, flowers, rivers, mountains. The other idea seems to me to be wrong in a subtler way. Certainly we ought to be discontented, we ought not simply to find out ways of making the best of a bad job, and yet if we kill all pleasure in the actual process of life, what sort of future are we preparing for ourselves? If a man cannot enjoy the return of spring, why should he be happy in a labour-saving Utopia? What will he do with the leisure that the machine will give him? I have always suspected that if our economic and political problems are ever really solved, life will become simpler instead of more complex, and that the sort of pleasure one gets from finding the first primrose will loom larger than the sort of pleasure one gets from eating an ice to the tune of a Wurlitzer. I think that by retaining one's childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and — to return to my first instance — toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable, and that by preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.

At any rate, spring is here, even in London N. 1, and they can't stop you enjoying it. This is a satisfying reflection. How many a time have I stood watching the toads mating, or a pair of hares having a boxing match in the young corn, and thought of all the important persons who would stop me enjoying this if they could. But luckily they can't. So long as you are not actually ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison or a holiday camp, spring is still spring. The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it."

 Artist: Charles Addams, The New Yorker, December 19 1959