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."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Poker Night Never Ends: Tennessee Williams @105

Today March 26 2016 is 105th Birth Anniversary of Tennessee Williams

 John Lahr, ‘Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh’, 2014:

“…Sexuality brought Williams down to earth and into life. “What do you expect to get from this sort of life?” Stanley asks Blanche about her promiscuity, in the first version of Streetcar. “Just life,” she says. Sexuality also called all absolutes into question. “The truth of the matter is that all human ideals have been hats too big for the human head,” Williams wrote in his diary in 1942. “Chivalry—democracy—christianity—The Hellenic ideal of Intellectual purity (the one I find most appealing)—all too big a hat!”…”

I feel Marathi stage owes a  debt to Mr. Williams.

Without  his plays 'A Streetcar Named Desire',  1947 and  'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ', 1955, there would perhaps be no Marathi plays like Vijay Tendulkar's  (विजय तेंडुलकर) 'Sakharam Binder', 1972 & Jaywant Dalvi's (जयवंत  दळवी ) 'Barrister' (बॅरिस्टर ), 1977 , 'Purush' (पुरुष), 1982.


Poker Night ('A Streetcar Named Desire'), 1948  by Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), the Whitney Museum NYC

"Poker Night captures the sexual tension and violent undertones in the relationships between Blanche DuBois, a down-and-out Southern belle (holding up a mirror), her sister, Stella (leaning over the armchair), and Stella’s husband, the hot-tempered, childlike Stanley Kowalski (wearing a white undershirt). It documents one of the play’s most dramatic and memorable moments, when Blanche taunts a drunk and angry Stanley with her petty provocations and refined airs."

This picture makes me wonder why, in India, we don't have paintings capturing a slice of a great play or a movie from 20th century. We have such paintings for Indian mythology drawn by the likes of  Raja Ravi Varma or Bhawanrao Shriniwasrao Pant Pratinidhi or T.V. Subramaniam (Maniam).

For instance staging of 'Samyukta Manapman' (संयुक्त मानापमान) on July 8 1921,  featuring two greats Keshavrao Bhosale (केशवराव भोसले) and Bal Gandharva (बाल गंधर्व),  was one of the greatest events on the cultural map of 20th century Maharashtra. It can only be compared to the rock star concerts in today's era. It's said that if the play were to be performed in open air, the ticket collection could been as much as Rs. 1 lac.   

(Gold price was $20.67 per ounce at the end of 1921, in March 2016 it's $1218.7...Therefore Rs. 1 lac then would be about Rs. 60 lac today...for just one performance of a Marathi play!)

And yet there is no great painting based on that performance!

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