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."

Friday, July 01, 2016

विनी-दी-पूह व सौमच्या खंदकातील गॅस यज्ञ...E.H. Shepard: Winnie-the-Pooh @90 and Battle of the Somme@100


Year 2016 is 90th birth anniversary year of Winnie-the-Pooh and today July 1 2016 is 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

Siegfried Sassoon, ‘Aftermath’, 1920:

“...Do you remember the rats; and the stench

Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--

And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?

Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'...”



Arun Kolatkar (अरुण कोलटकर), 'Sarpa Satra', 2003/2004, page 56:
 "...A nice yajnya, this.
Not a single sacrificial post in sight.
No ropes, no knives.
There's no need for the queen,
or anybody else,
to lead the animal to the killing field
and take its life by smothering it,
bludgeoning it,
or worse.
No need to carve up the parts
-omentum, liver, lung, bladder,
genitals-
and cook them separately;
or to roast
the victim's still-bleeding heart on a spit.
Oh no. Nothing of the sort.
Nothing crude.
It's all sorcery: mantras do it all..."


Baroness Warsi, Daily Mail, August 4 2013:

...The largest volunteer army was the British Indian Army, which provided 1.2million men to fight. This is a staggering contribution; it’s thought that a tenth of the British war effort came from Indian soldiers. Despite the scale of sacrifice – 74,000 lost their lives in battle – knowledge of the contribution is sadly lacking.

My mission is to make sure their bravery, and that of others, is not forgotten. Immediately after the outbreak of war, divisions from India were dispatched to Europe. Thousands of men travelled across the world to fight for King and country – a King who wasn’t from their land and a country which they’d probably never seen.

It wasn’t just the propaganda that lured these men to battle. It was the glory that bravery would bestow on them, tribally and spiritually – and the 11-Rupee monthly salary...”


Winnie-the-Pooh was born 90 years ago in 1926. It was first illustrated by E.H. Shepard (1879-1976)


I did not know the Pooh as a kid but my son did and he used this plastic stool for a number of years at our home with great affection. We still call it simply 'Winnie-the-Pooh'.


It's hard to believe that the same E.H. Shepard had not only participated in the war and won 'Military Cross' but also sketched the horror of the World War I trenches.


Jenny Uglow writes in ‘A Charmer in the Trenches for The New York Review of Books in October 2015:
“...Most of all in his prewar days, Shepard longed to join the elite group of cartoonists in Punch, of which Florence’s grandfather had been one of the founders. He had just managed this, with graphic social cartoons, when war broke out. In 1915 he joined up, soon to serve as an artillery officer with the 105th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was there with his troops on the Somme, at the battles of Arras and at Passchendaele, and later, in the last days of the war, in the fierce, snowbound fighting in the Italian Alps. Everywhere, he took his sketchbook...” 


1916, Courtesy: The Shepard Trust/Punch Ltd.


Geoff Dyer explains the "gas Attack' in his book ‘The Missing of the Somme’, 1994:
“...If shelling meant that courage would increasingly consist of endurance rather than gallantry, the introduction of gas condemned the soldier to a state of unendurable helplessness. Once an enemy gun emplacement had been knocked out, the danger from that source ceased immediately. Once a gas attack had been launched, all soldiers — even those who had initiated it — were simply at the mercy of the elements.
The first lethal gas, chlorine, was an inefficient weapon compared with phosgene and mustard gas which came later. Urinating in a handkerchief and breathing through it — as Robert Ross persuades his men to do in Timothy Findley’s novel The Wars — was often protection enough. Against mustard gas — which attacked the skin and eyes as well as the lungs — no protection was available. Since it could not be evaded, resisted or fled from, it eliminated the possibility not only of bravery but of cowardice, the dark backing which heroism, traditionally, had depended on to make itself visible.
Mustard gas was designed to torment rather than kill. Eighteen times more powerful than chlorine, phosgene was invisible and lethal— but effective masks soon became available. For their survival, then, soldiers were at the mercy of the same industrial technology that was evolving new means of destroying them.
The pattern for the century had been set: the warrior of tradition becomes little more than a guinea pig in the warring experiments of factories and laboratories..."

To paraphrase Kolatkar:

Oh no. Nothing of the sort.

Nothing crude.

It's all sorcery: gas does it all.


Indian bicycle troops at a crossroads on the Fricourt-Mametz Road, Somme, France


courtesy: Wikipedia

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