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."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

बुटातील पाउले उंबऱ्याबाहेर पडली होती...Van Gogh's Shoes

Today July 29 2015 is 125th Death Anniversary of Vincent van Gogh

The epigraph in G A's 'Pinglavel' (पिंगळावेळ), 1977

तीर्थरूप आबांस,

डोळे उघडुन उठून बसत मी तुम्हाला नीट
पाहण्यापूर्वीच तुमची पाउले उंबऱ्याबाहेर
पडली होती.

(To father who is Equivalent-of-Holy-Water,

Before I opened my eyes and sat up to take a good
look at you your feet had crossed over the threshold)

I often wondered what those feet were like...


Artist: Van Gogh, September 1887

Saturday, July 25, 2015

बघता बघता एक दिवस, काढणाऱ्याचे हात घ्यावे...S D Phadnis@90

Coming up on July 29 2015, Wednesday, is 90th Birthday of S D Phadnis (शि द फडणीस)

विंदा करंदीकर:
"घेता घेता एक दिवस
देणा-याचे हात घ्यावे!"
अनामिक:
"बघता बघता एक दिवस
काढणाऱ्याचे हात घ्यावे."



"The Venus de Milo is a paradox: the embodiment of beauty, yet disfigured. And she is a puzzle, gazing serenely at something we cannot see, something once held, we assume, by her missing arms... 

...speculation about the statue’s original pose was a minor industry. She was imagined standing beside a warrior—Mars or Theseus—with her left hand grazing his shoulder. She was pictured holding a mirror, an apple, or laurel wreaths, sometimes with a pedestal to support her left arm. She was even depicted as a mother holding a baby..."
Now Mr. Phadnis is not interested in the original pose instead he imagines what pose she may take with some help!
( By the way, this is one of the best cartoons I have ever seen. This could have been easily printed on the cover of a bumper issue of The New Yorker.)

Courtesy: S D Phadnis

After borrowing the hands from Indian goddess, Venus can return to what she was supposed to be doing earlier: Spinning thread...


courtesy: Cosmo Wenman and Slate

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Suns are Made Daily but Sagans?

Carl Sagan:

"The hard truth seems to be this: We live in a vast and awesome universe in which, daily, suns are made and worlds destroyed, where humanity clings to an obscure clod of rock. The significance of our lives and our fragile realm derives from our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We would prefer it to be otherwise, of course, but there is no compelling evidence for a cosmic Parent who will care for us and save us from ourselves. It is up to us."



Preeminent astrophysicist and cosmologist Carl Sagan not only smoked marijuana regularly, he was also a strong advocate for its use in enhancing intellectual pursuits — though not as publicly as others on this list. Having said that, Sagan did contribute an essay to the 1971 book titled “Marijuana Reconsidered” that spoke to the virtues of marijuana use. The piece was penned under the assumed name “Mr. X.” The identity of its true author was only revealed after Sagan’s death."



Artist: Jody Hewgill, Smithsonian.com

Saturday, July 18, 2015

And Not Waving But Drowning...


Economic and Political Weekly dated September 14 2013 has an article titled: "Waving or Drowning / Developing Countries after the Financial Crisis" by Yilmaz Akyüz.


"...India has been relying on the supply of labour to the rest of the world, not by converting them into higher-value manufactures, but by exporting unskilled workers and information and telecommunications (IT) and other labour services of a very small proportion of its total labour force (Nabar-Bhaduri and Vernengo 2012)..."

Although I have quoted a small para from the article, the objective of this blog-post is very different.

The title reminds me of two things:

Poem by Stevie Smith (1903-1971) and cartoon by James Stevenson, both excellent.

"And not waving but drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning."
Artist : James Stevenson (b 1929- ), The New Yorker, 19 November 1960

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Without a Kiss, I Tell You My Top 10 Books

1. 'सुदाम्याचे पोहे' लेखक: श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर

2. 'पिंगळा वेळ' लेखक: जी ए कुलकर्णी

3. 'मर्ढेकरांची कविता' लेखक: बा सी मर्ढेकर

4. 'विनोबा सारस्वत' लेखक: विनोबा भावे

5. 'अक्षरांचा श्रम केला' लेखक: विलास सारंग

6. 'सर्वोत्तम सरवटे' लेखक/ चित्रकार: वसंत सरवटे

7. 'Straw Dogs' by John Gray

8. 'About Love and Other Stories' by Anton Chekhov

9. 'Essays' by George Orwell

10. 'Selected Poems' by W H Auden

(The list is not in any order)

Artist: William Hamilton, The New Yorker,  8 February 1969

Friday, July 10, 2015

Quilts of Lucinda Ward Honstain and G A Kulkarni...जी ए कुलकर्णी

Today July 10 2015 is 92nd Birth Anniversary of G A Kulkarni



Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All-Too-Human:

"The thinker or artist whose better self has fled into his works feels an almost malicious joy when he sees his body and spirit slowly broken into and destroyed by time; it is as if he were in a corner, watching a thief at work on his safe, all the while knowing that it is empty and that all his treasures have been rescued."


जी ए कुलकर्णी:

"...-ही सारी माणसे, त्यांनी आयुष्याला केलेले मायेचे स्पर्श, त्यांच्या या स्पर्शाचे लहान गोल आरसे बसवलेले वस्त्र पांघरून आपण येथपर्यंत निभावत आलो!"

('स्वामी',1973, 'पिंगळा वेळ', 1977)

Vault, Slate's history blog informed in March 2014:

"Lucinda Ward Honstain, resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, pieced and sewed this quilt in 1867. It depicts her view of life before, during, and right after the Civil War...In her design, Honstain juxtaposed personal and political events..."


 courtesy: International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln 
and Slate.com

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Mahabharat महापीडिया....Mahapedia is NOT the Sum of Just Male Knowledge

William Dalrymple, review of Charles Allen's 'The Buddha and the Sahibs':

"...Thus we hear again the wonderful story of how Jones mastered Sanskrit, a language that he soon realised was "more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either. I am in love with the gopis, charmed with Krishna and an enthusiastic admirer of Rama. Arjun, Bhima and the warriors of the Mahabharata appear greater in my eyes than Ajax or Achilles appeared when I first read the Iliad..." 



"Wikipedia is “like a sausage”, its founder, Jimmy Wales, told a reporter in 2004. “You might like the taste of it, but you don’t necessarily want to see how it’s made.” Back then, the free online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit was an exciting new, scrappy, collaborative utopia. Now it is the most influential source of information in the world...

...Yet when it comes to how it is made, Wikipedia is a colossal failure. Only a tiny proportion of users now edit articles and the overwhelming majority of those editors are male. The most recent survey by the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity that supports but does not control Wikipedia, found that 91 per cent of the editors are More optimistic surveys have put the figure at 84 per cent – but still, Wikipedia has a huge diversity problem men.. Instead of being the egalitarian “sum of all human knowledge”, as Wales had originally hoped, the English version of Wikipedia is mostly the sum of male knowledge..."

Wendy Doniger is a very interesting writer....She captures Mahabharata's, indeed India's uniqueness thus:

"...But the Mahabharata is not the head of a brahmin philosophy accidentally stuck onto a body of non-brahmin folklore, like the heads and bodies of people in several Indian myths, or the mythical beast invoked by Woody Allen, which has the body of a lion and the head of a lion, but not the same lion. True, it was somewhat like an ancient Wikipedia, to which anyone who knew Sanskrit, or who knew someone who knew Sanskrit, could add a bit here, a bit there. But the powerful intertextuality of Hinduism ensured that anyone who added anything to the Mahabharata was well aware of the whole textual tradition behind it and fitted his or her own insight, or story, thoughtfully into the ongoing conversation. However diverse its sources, for several thousand years the tradition has regarded it as a conversation among people who know one another’s views and argue with silent partners. It is a contested text, a brilliantly orchestrated hybrid narrative with no single party line on any subject. It was contested not only within the Hindu tradition, where concepts of dharma were much debated, but also by the rising rival traditions of Buddhism and Jainism..."

(courtesy introduction to 'Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling' by Carole Satyamurti)

Mahabharata is like Wikipedia....How I love this analogy....Next time I edit a Wikipedia page, I will feel different...a part of lineage...


Now, it's impossible to know how many women  contributed to Mahapedia but

"...The text depicts women with powers and privileges they would seldom have again in Hindu literature. Women with multiple sexual partners appear with surprising frequency in the Mahabharata; the text offers us, in four consecutive generations, positive images of women who had several sexual partners (sometimes premarital) seriatim....many of the Mahabharata women are a feminist’s dream (or a sexist’s nightmare): smart, aggressive, steadfast, eloquent, tough as nails, and resilient..."


 Notice: Wikipedia volumes are standing at the back

 Artist: Farley Katz, The New Yorker, June 2012

Friday, July 03, 2015

The Satavahanas and Marilyn Monroe: The Body Is Meant To Be Seen


"...'A safflower!' they shouted,
Pointing to the nail-mark
On her breast, and laughed
When she tried to brush it." 145

('The Absent Traveller: Prakrit Love Poetry from the Gathasaptasati of Satavahana Hala' by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra)
 
"…स्तन हे मातृत्वाचे प्रतीक असल्यामुळे त्यांच्या विवस्त्र प्रदर्शनात शिष्टाचाराचा भंग होत नाही असा प्राचीन शिल्पकारांचा संकेत होता (Altekar: Dress and Ornaments of Hindu Women : Journal of the Benares Hindu University: Vol II: No 3: p 408)..."

('हाल सातवाहनाची  गाथा सप्तशती' संपादक: स आ जोगळेकर, 1956)

डॉ. मधुकर केशव ढवळीकर:
 "…उच्चकुलीन स्त्रिया बहुधा उत्तरीय वापरत, परंतु सर्वसाधारण स्त्रियांचा शरीराचा वरचा भाग अनावृत्त असे…"
(सातवाहनकालातील संपन्न गृहपती, 'महाराष्ट्राची कुळकथा', 2011)

दुर्गा  भागवत, 'वनकथा ', निसर्गोत्सव , 1996:
 "… मग  मी मुलांना  दिलेला  खाऊ  त्यांनी  खाल्ला . मग बायका जमा झाल्या . साऱ्यांची कमरेपोतरची  शरीरे अनावृत्त . पण ती अनावृत्त  स्तनमंडळे  खरेच फार सुरेख होती . लहानसर पण अतिशय बांधेसूद . एकीने मला विचारले, "तुम्ही चोळी कशाला घालता?" हा प्रश्नच अनपेक्षित होता . मी गोंधळले . मग त्या साऱ्या जणी हसल्या . त्यातील एक प्रौढा  माझ्या जवळ आली . निःसंकोच पणे  माझ्या छातीवरून हात फिरवीत ती म्हणाली, "पाहा, असं  होतं . आमची छाती कशी घट्ट आहे नि हिची  पाहा कशी कापसासारखी!" मग ती मला म्हणाली , "बघ बाई , तुमची सीता  पण वनात  आली. तिनं आमच्यासारखी  सुरेख 'दुध' (स्तन ) हवी होती ना? चोळी टाकली. तिची वक्षःस्थळं भरदार झाली. आवडली आमच्या रावणाला. पळवली तिला. मग दुसरी म्हणाली , "खरं च  की ते, चोळी घातली  की छाती खचते …"
  
For me year 2015 has been that of Gaha Sattasai- I am reading it for the first time in both Marathi and English- and hence of Satavahanas.


Fresco of woman with flower offerings, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, circa 5 CE

I saw the following image on Facebook in February 2015 and I felt how Ms. Monroe would have enjoyed her stay when the Satavahanas ruled.

Imagine her in the fresco above!



picture courtesy: FB page dedicated to Ms. Monroe