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."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

आमचा दहा वर्षांचा वायफळाचा ब्लॉग ...How Barren is My Soul, Thought and Blog


Søren Kierkegaard, ‘Either/Or: A Fragment of Life’ (1843):

"How barren is my soul and thought, and yet incessantly tormented by vacuous, rapturous and agonizing birth pangs! Is my spirit to be forever tongue-tied? Must I always babble? What I need is a voice as penetrating as the glance of Lynceus, terrifying as the sigh of the giants, persistent as a sound of nature, mocking as a frost-chilled gust of wind, malicious as Echo’s callous scorn, with a compass from the deepest bass to the most melting chest-notes, modulating from the whisper of gentle holiness to the violent fury of rage. That is what I need to get air, to give expression to what is on my mind, to stir the bowels of my wrath and of my sympathy. – But my voice is only hoarse like the cry of a gull, or dying away like the blessing upon the lips of the dumb."  (trans. Alastair Hannay, 1992)

Isaiah Berlin:

"Every line I have ever written and every lecture I have ever delivered seems to me of very little or no value."

Roger Rosenblatt:

"...I don’t think longevity affects the relationship with output, either. I doubt that Wordsworth at the end of his long life was more satisfied with his body of work than was Keats, at the end of his short one. In a way, all writing is essay writing, an endless attempt at finding beauty in horror, nobility in want — an effort to punish, reward and love all things human that naturally resist punishments, rewards and love. It is an arduous and thankless exercise, not unlike faith in God. Sometimes, when you are in the act of writing, you feel part of a preordained plan, someone else’s design. That someone else might as well be God. And then one day you rear back and survey everything you have done, and think, Is this all God had in mind? But it’s all you got."

Kenneth Goldsmith, ‘Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age’, 2011:

“In 1969 the conceptual artist Douglas Huebler wrote, “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.”1 I’ve come to embrace Huebler’s ideas, though it might be retooled as “The world is full of texts, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” It seems an appropriate response to a new condition in writing today: faced with an unprecedented amount of available text, the problem is not needing to write more of it; instead, we must learn to negotiate the vast quantity that exists. How I make my way through this thicket of information—how I manage it, how I parse it, how I organize and distribute it—is what distinguishes my writing from yours.

The literary critic Marjorie Perloff has recently begun using the term unoriginal genius to describe this tendency emerging in literature. Her idea is that, because of changes brought on by technology and the Internet, our notion of genius—a romantic isolated figure—is outdated. An updated notion of genius would have to center around one’s mastery of information and its dissemination. Perloff has coined a term, moving information, to signify both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process. She posits that today’s writer resembles more a programmer than a tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing, and maintaining a writing machine...”
  

I have not done it for the last nine times....but this time, I can't help it....today, November 29 2016, is 10th anniversary of this blog.

Over the decade and 1,392 blog posts, I have bungled grammatically, spelled wrongly, contradicted myself, have been factually wrong, rushed to judgement, generalized on inadequate data points, been afraid of cultural, social and political vigilante, have been highly subjective, showed impatience....but, well, that has been the story of my life too! Needless to say, over the same period, my views, tastes, passions, likes, dislikes, physical abilities, libido- all have changed...

Although the page-views count of the blog has grown exponentially, I don't know how many real people have visited the blog...comments have been sporadic...but I have not really bothered because I have primarily written the blog for myself...it has been a kind of therapeutic process after the death of my mother in January 2006...On second or third day after her passing, my father, himself a prolific writer, asked me: Why don't you do something?...This blog is a kind of my feeble response.

Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे) was the first person who encouraged me very early on to continue my endeavor.. (he telephoned me just for that)...there have been a few more- including Marathi dailies Loksatta (लोकसत्ता) and Lokmat (लोकमत)- since then...Another person who has encouraged me all along is Mangesh Nabar (मंगेश नाबर).

The layout of this blog was quite awful, even after Blogger software underwent huge changes. Avadhoot Dongare (अवधूत डोंगरे) helped me change it to the format you see today. I have always found Avadhoot's feedback, even on the contents of this blog, useful.

I added the following cartoon to the first post on this blog sometime in 2007:

Artist: Paul Wood, The Spectator





Artist: Alex Gregory, The New Yorker, 2005

When I wrote a post on a website that largely has contributions written in Marathi (मराठी), there was a comment that my writing was a kind of 'farm of emptiness' (वायफळाचा मळा). 

It probably is. 

However, there is a small consolation. A title of a book by one of the greatest Marathi writers, C V Joshi (चिं. वि. जोशी) is: 'वायफळाचा मळा'!

How long will I go on before I decide to go back to barking? As long as I enjoy it, afford it, has physical ability to do it and, above all, Google Inc. permits it.
 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

इतिहास कसा पाहिजे? तमाशा नाहीतर स्फुर्तीदायक किंवा दोन्ही!...Ghashiram Kotwal and Hamilton (Musical)


Paul Lay, ‘The golden age of anachronism’, History Today, November 17 2016:

“This is a golden age for connoisseurs of anachronism. The perfect storm of Brexit, a dysfunctional US presidential contest, murderous meltdown in the Middle East and the rise of autocrats around the globe has seen commentators scrambling around for often dubious historical parallels. Donald Trump has been compared with, in ascending order of plausibility, Hitler (inevitably, lazily), the Emperor Nero and Catiline, the Roman senator who conspired to overthrow the Republic...

... Such anachronisms are not only stupid, they are also dangerous, as they feed a desire to make the past and, as a consequence, the present and the future, neat and tidy, black and white, free of the complexity, nuance and compromise that real historians reveal and long-term solutions demand. No one who engages seriously with the past can be party to such crude analogies.”

Henry Miller:

“We read history to corroborate our own views, not to learn what scholars think to be true. About the future there is as little agreement as bout the past, I’ve noticed. We stand in relation to the past very much like the cow in the meadow — endlessly chewing the cud. It is not something finished and done with, as we sometimes fondly imagine, but something alive, constantly changing, and perpetually with us.”

George Orwell:

"Already history has in a sense ceased to exist, ie. there is no such thing as a history of our own times which could be universally accepted, and the exact sciences are endangered as soon as military necessity ceases to keep people up to the mark. Hitler can say that the Jews started the war, and if he survives that will become official history."

John Gray:

"Liberal societies cannot depend on history for their survival. They need to defend themselves, and here the cult of rights needs deflating. Human rights may have value as symbolic barriers against the worst evils, such as genocide, slavery and torture. Where they are not backed by state power, however, ­human rights mean nothing: less than nothing, in fact, if they encourage people to believe they will be protected when (as in Srebrenica and now in Aleppo) the power to protect them is lacking. Human rights cannot serve as a template for world order. When they are used to promote evangelical military campaigns they endanger the way of life they were meant to protect."

दुर्गा भागवत विजय तेंडुलकरांच्या 'घाशीराम कोतवाल', १९७२ बद्दल :

 "...पण मराठेशाही वाचवणारा (नाना फडणवीस) हा शेवटचा माणूस. त्याच हे कर्तृत्व तेंडुलकरांनी लक्षातच घेतल नाही. आपल्याला सोयीचा तेवढाच नाना फडणीस उचलायचा, हा त्याच्यावर अन्याय आहे. मग त्यातून कसलं तत्वज्ञान सांगितलं असलं; तरी ते डागाळलेल असतं. त्याबद्दल लिहायला नको? म्हणून मी चिडले आणि लिहलं..."  (पृष्ठ: १३७, 'ऐसपैस गप्पा: दुर्गाबाईंशी', ले: प्रतिभा रानडे, १९९८)

David Livingstone Smith, ‘Less Than Human: Why we demean, enslave, and exterminate others’, 2011:

...Whereas at the inception of their American adventure, the Puritans had considered the Indians to be degenerate human beings snared in the devil’s clutches, it didn’t take long for them to cast the Indians as devils incarnate. The “red devils” of this ethnic demonology were said to possess telltale predatory traits—they were “untamed,” “cruel,” and “bloodthirsty” (the “merciless Indian savages” of the Declaration of Independence). In rhetoric reminiscent of Cotton Mather, George Washington informed a correspondent that Indians and wolves are both “beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.”...”

Fouad Ajami, review of “IDENTITY AND VIOLENCE/ The Illusion of Destiny” By Amartya Sen:

 ”… Sen works with the anecdote: His potted history is tailored for interfaith dialogues. He writes of the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides, who, when forced to emigrate from "an intolerant Europe" in the 12th century, was able to find "a tolerant refuge in the Arab world" in the court of the great Muslim ruler Saladin.

But this will not do as history.

Maimonides, born in 1135, did not flee "Europe" for the "Arab world": He fled his native Córdoba in Spain, which was then in the grip of religious-political terror, choking under the yoke of a Berber Muslim dynasty, the Almohads, that was to snuff out all that remained of the culture of convivencia and made the life of Spain's Jews (and of the free spirits among its Muslims) utter hell. Maimonides and his family fled the fire of the Muslim city-states in the Iberian Peninsula to Morocco and then to Jerusalem. There was darkness and terror in Morocco as well, and Jerusalem was equally inhospitable in the time of the Crusader Kingdom. Deliverance came only in Cairo -- the exception, not the rule, its social peace maintained by the enlightened Saladin…
Inspirational history can go only so far; it will not bend to Sen's good cheer.”
 



Darío Fernández-Morera, ‘The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain’, 2016:
“...In the past few decades, this ideological mission has morphed into “presentism,” an academically sponsored effort to narrate the past in terms of the present and thereby reinterpret it to serve contemporary “multicultural,” “diversity,” and “peace” studies, which necessitate rejecting as retrograde, chauvinistic, or, worse, “conservative” any view of the past that may conflict with the progressive agenda. Thus it is stupendous to see how some academic specialists turn and twist to downplay religion as the motivating force in Muslim conquests, and even to question the invasion of Spain by Muslim Arab-led Berbers as the conquest of one culture and its religion by another. Failing to take seriously the religious factor in Islamic conquests is characteristic of a certain type of materialist Western historiography which finds it uncomfortable to accept that war and the willingness to kill and die in it can be the result of someone’s religious faith—an obstacle to understanding that may reflect the role played by religious faith in the lives of many academic historians. This materialist approach has also generally prevailed in scholarly analyses of the Crusades...” 
 
या ब्लॉग वर कदाचित आधी लिहल्याप्रमाणे मला स्वतःला अत्यंत यशस्वी आणि गाजलेले 'घाशीराम' खूप आवडायचे. मूळ संचात मी ते तीनदा पहिले आहे, त्यातले  एक वेळा दिमागदार एनसीपीए मध्ये. पण त्याकडे कधी इतिहास म्हणून पाहिले नाही. तमाशा-करमणूक म्हणून पाहिले. इतिहास म्हणून त्याच्यात असंख्य त्रुटी आहेत. 

'घाशीराम'हून कितीतरी जास्त धूम, सध्या अमेरिकेत 'हॅमिल्टन' या सांगितीकेने  उडवली आहे. रॉन चरनौव (Ron Chernow) यांच्या पुस्तकावरती ते आधारित आहे. मी ते पुस्तक वाचले नाहीये पण त्याबद्दल पुष्कळ वाचलय.

लोकसत्ता मध्ये ह्या सांगितीकावरती लेख आला होता. 


Christopher Jackson, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anthony Ramos in Hamilton, 2015

courtesy: the copy right holders

ज्यावेळी अमेरिकेचे निर्वाचित उपाध्यक्ष ते सांगितीक बघायला गेले त्यावेळी काय झाले त्याचा वॉशिंग्टन पोस्ट मधला वृत्तांत वाचा:


Brandon Victor Dixon — the actor who played Aaron Burr in the musical ‘Hamilton’ on November 18 2016 said: “...Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at ‘Hamilton: An American Musical.’ We really do,” Dixon said to further applause. “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for (sharing) this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations...”

ॲनेट गॉर्डन-रीड (Annette Gordon-Reed) या हिस्टरी टुडे मध्ये 'हॅमिल्टन' बद्दल लिहतात:

"...It is an unabashed celebration of the American Founding and the Founding Generation; not a thing one expects to see at a time when adopting a more critical stance about that era has become the order of the day. Certainly academic historians of the years that Hamilton mainly covers – the 1770s up until Hamilton’s death in 1804 – are keen to question the triumphant story of the birth of the American Union: the American Revolution was ultimately a good thing, but not for African-Americans or Native Americans; the so-called Founding Fathers were great men, but they believed in white supremacy and made their peace with slavery.

How, then, has Hamilton managed to bypass the more critical take on the Founding and still receive the well wishes of even the most sceptical historians, along with those of an adoring public? The answer lies in the casting. The actors portraying Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and  other major characters are all people of colour. The only characters portrayed by white actors are George III and a British Loyalist. This cross-racial casting shapes the audience’s response to the play...."

हे वाचून खूप करमणूक झाली...केवळ वेगळ्या वंशांच्या लोकांनी भूमिका वठवल्यामुळे अमेरिकेच्या 'फाऊंडींग फादर्स'च्या काळ्या गुलामांच्या, नेटिव्ह अमेरिकनांच्या बाबत केलेल्या वर्तनाच्या सत्याकडे दुर्लक्ष करता आले...म्हणजे भारतात दलितांनी आणि आदिवासींनी ब्राह्मणांच्या आणि इतर उच्च वर्णियांच्या सर्व भूमिका कोणा ऐतिहासिक सिनेमा किंवा नाटकात कराव्या, त्याला प्रेक्षकांनी डोक्यावर घ्यावे आणि त्याचा 'विस्मयकारक भारतीय कथा' (a la 'wonderful American story') म्हणून गौरव करावा!

"If one of the principal concerns about the leaders of the early American Republic is their ill treatment of people of colour, having people of colour portray these men neutralises that concern in a way that casting a white actor could not. Consider George Washington. It would seem impossible not to fall under the spell of the actor Christopher Jackson. A black man, Jackson, inhabits the character of the white slave-owning Washington, giving the audience permission to think about something besides Washington’s status as a slave-owner and focus on his other achievements. He led Americans to victory in war, managed the difficult first years of the Republic and voluntarily gave up power, thus allowing for the orderly transition from one leader to another. Whether this suspension of reality about race during this period is a benign thing will, undoubtedly, be one of the most debated features of the play for years to come."

आता खऱ्या हॅमिल्टन साहेबांबद्दल.
"... The real Alexander was a champion of what we call today ‘the one per cent’, who had much less faith in ‘the people’ and democracy than his nemesis, Jefferson. He argued that the president of the United States should serve on good behaviour, in other words, for life, barring misdeeds. The play links Hamilton to America’s uplifting 19th- and 20th-century immigration narrative, but he had no fondness for immigrants. Although to his great credit he was forward-thinking on racial matters, Hamilton was not the committed abolitionist the play makes him out to be..."

खरे, हाडामासाचे हॅमिल्टन टोकाच्या भांडवलशाहीचे पुरस्कर्ते होते...लोकशाही, निर्वासित या बद्दल त्यांना प्रेम नव्हते...गुलामगिरीच्या उच्चाटनाला त्यांनी नाटकात दाखवलय इतक कधी कमिट केले नव्हते...

"With all this said, Hamilton was never meant to be a documentary. As a creative work it seeks to tell its own truths in its own ways. Still, there is concern that Miranda’s version of Alexander Hamilton will come to shape the public’s view of the man and his times. If, as Miranda and others suggest, the play leads people to seek out the facts about the historical Hamilton – and there are more ways than ever to do that – the chances are that this will not happen."

म्हणजे इतिहासातील कोणतीही पात्रे घ्या, त्यांना सध्याच्या उदारमतवादाच्या मुशीत घाला, फोटोजेनिक, बरे अभिनय करणारे नट-नट्या जमा करा (नग्नता असेल तर अधिक उत्तम), चांगले संगीत, भव्य निर्मिती...  पुरस्कार...  मोजा गल्ल्यावरचे पैसे.

पण याचा इतिहासाशी काय संबंध? त्या असामान्य करमणुकीला 'हॅमिल्टन' असे नाव देवून त्याची इतिहासाबरोबर, सामान्य माणसांच्या मनात, गल्लत करवतायत ही लोक. पुन्हा एकदा वाचा अमेरिकेच्या निर्वाचित उपाध्यक्षाला उद्देशून बोलले गेलेले वरील शब्द. कसल्या आल्यात अमेरिकन व्हॅल्यू? 'घाशीराम'च्या कलाकारांनी असा आगावपणा अगदी 'आणीबाणी'च्या नंतर सुद्धा कोणाच्याच बाबतीत केला नसता. 

आता गॉर्डन-रीड यांचे हे वाक्य पहा: 'Miranda’s version of Alexander Hamilton will come to shape the public’s view of the man and his times'... हे फार दुर्दैवी आहे...इतिहास असा विकृत होत जातो...जो लोकप्रिय, जो सांगणाऱ्याला सोयीचा, जो गल्लाभरू तो इतिहास ठरतो...सत्याचा आणि त्याचा संबंध दिवसेंदिवस कमी होत जातो....भारतात/ महाराष्ट्रात  त्याची कैक उदाहरणे- पुस्तकात, नाटकात, सिनेमात, भाषणात- आहेत... 

शेवटी, वर उल्लेख केलेल्या लोकसत्ता लेखातील वाक्य पहा: "आशय-संगीत-कला यांचा अनोखा मिलाफ सामान्य प्रेक्षकांपासून ते त्याच्या कर्त्यांपर्यंत किती विविधांगी परिणाम करू शकतो, याचे ‘हॅमिल्टन’ हे एक अभिजात आणि विलक्षण असं उदाहरण ठरलं आहे."

आशय-संगीत-कला...ह्यात इतिहासाचा उल्लेख केला नाहीय पण आशय लिहून ठेवलयच...आशय वगैरे काही नाही, ती फक्त एक उत्तम दर्जाची करमणूक आहे...जस 'घाशीराम' होत तशी... 

Akira Kurosawa's 'Rashomon', 1950