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."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

If Indeed Napoleon Never Set a Foot in 'Waterloo'....

Today June 18 2015 is 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo.

Bernard Coppens, a Belgian historian and former Waterloo resident: 

"Napoleon never set a foot in Waterloo—it’s a fact.”

We are observing 100th anniversary of World War I (1914-1918) since last year and the most relevant word that comes to mind while doing so is slaughter.

200 years ago on that Sunday too thousands of men were slaughtered.  Lest we forget, thousands of horses too died.

Most of the Battle of Waterloo took place a few miles south of real Waterloo, in Braine-l’Alleud and Plancenoit. The battle got its name because the victor, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, penned his official report from his Waterloo headquarters.

I have also been curious about how and when the news of the battle reached shores of India.

How did, if at all, the Maratha's, themselves a dying (if not already dead) empire, learn about it? After all  Wellesley had earlier won a decisive victory over the Maratha Confederacy at the Battle of Assaye in 1803.

One of the most interesting commentary, I have read, on the battle has come from Andrew Roberts in '
Smithsonian Magazine':

"...If Napoleon had remained emperor of France for the six years remaining in his natural life, European civilization would have benefited inestimably. The reactionary Holy Alliance of Russia, Prussia and Austria would not have been able to crush liberal constitutionalist movements in Spain, Greece, Eastern Europe and elsewhere; pressure to join France in abolishing slavery in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean would have grown; the benefits of meritocracy over feudalism would have had time to become more widely appreciated; Jews would not have been forced back into their ghettos in the Papal States and made to wear the yellow star again; encouragement of the arts and sciences would have been better understood and copied; and the plans to rebuild Paris would have been implemented, making it the most gorgeous city in the world.


Napoleon deserved to lose Waterloo, and Wellington to win it, but the essential point in this bicentenary year is that the epic battle did not need to be fought—and the world would have been better off if it hadn’t been."



'The Field of Waterloo', 1818

Artist: Joseph Mallord William Turner 

courtesy: The New York Review of Books & Tate Britain

Jenny Uglow writes about it:

"But his great painting, The Field of Waterloo, of 1818, shows a scene of slaughter rather than triumph. Here the exuberance of all the satirical prints and dashing military watercolors is forgotten. Instead the opposing nations mingle and the divisions of rank vanish, as the women hunt by the light of a flaming torch, to find those they love among the tangled bodies."

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