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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Simona Halep or Hans Rudi Erdt's Lady Tennis Player?

US Open (Tennis)- the only Grand Slam tournament that has been played every year since its inception in 1881- started last night, Monday August 25 2014

 I like watching tennis on TV occasionally. Some matches are just breathtaking (for instance 'The 2008 Wimbledon Men's Singles final') and they just take you in.

Before I graduated- unlike cricket, kabaddi, kho kho, wrestling, athletics, hockey, football, table tennis, badminton, chess, carrom etc.- I must have seen live tennis only a couple of times. 

Therefore, as I have mentioned on this blog earlier, I used to wonder, during my middle-school days, why tennis was covered so much- much more than some of the sports mentioned above- in Marathi newspapers when so few Indians play it or have ever played it. Premjit Lall and Joydeep Mukherjee were household names for those who read sports page of Maharashtra Times (महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स).

The answer probably is: Tennis is like Hindi films. 

Do you act in Hindi films? No, but you watch them. You write about them. You talk about them. Similarly, you don't play tennis, you watch it.  You read it. You talk about it.

Some of the female tennis players are good looking, almost like Hollywood actors.

   Simona Halep in action in US Open 2013

 

Artist: Hans Rudi Erdt (1883-1918) printed in Berlin, 1908. Advertises a tennis competition 

courtesy: Slate’s history blog The Vault

By the way: Who do you find more attractive? Ms. Halep or fully clothed lady of Mr. Erdt?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

अरुण कोलटकर...Leaving Jejuri Behind Without a Coconut in Your Hand

This year, 2014, is 10th Death Anniversary year of poet Arun Kolatkar (अरुण कोलटकर). We lost him on September 25 2004. He died about a km away from where I then lived.


Tim Harford, FT, August 21 2014:

"...One thing that need not worry anyone, though, is the prospect of an inflation target of 4 per cent. It will not happen. That is particularly true in the place where the world economy most needs more inflation: in the eurozone. The German folk memory of hyperinflation in 1923 is just too strong. That economic catastrophe, which helped lay the foundations for Nazism and ruin much of the 20th century, continues to resonate today..."

Tomorrow August 25 2014 is Somvati Amavasya (सोमवती अमावस्या), Shravan's (श्रावण) last day. It's the day that will be celebrated big, with a fair, at Jejuri, a seat of deity Khandoba (खंडोबा). This year among hundreds of thousands of believers, there is a faithless.

Raging food inflation!


Marathi daily Loksatta reported on August 22 2014:

"खंडोबा भाविकांचा खोबरे-भंडारा उधळण्यात आखडता हात" (Devotees of Khandoba hesitate to splurge coconut-turmeric)

It's because both the things have become expensive. According to the report, they used to be sold together around Rs. 60 a kilo and  now cost Rs. 240-280 a kilo.

This blog has entries on how inflation hurts literature  on December 27 2007 and December 24 2009.  Now it's the turn of faith!

Khandoba/ Jejuri always remind me of Kolatkar's poetry. Being a man with great sense of humour and a gifted poet, I wonder how he would have incorporated this development in his poetry.

After reading the news item, I went through his book to find out if he has referred to coconut and turmeric in the book.

I couldn't find turmeric but there is yellow on the cover and in the poem called 'The Butterfly' and coconut appears in 'Between Jejuri and the Railway Station':

'You've left the town behind, with a coconut in your hand..."

Have you, this time?



courtesy: Pras, 2001

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Digesting in Numerical Form


Nick Cullather:


“...Americans increasingly digested their information in numerical form. After 1905, gamblers judged horses by the portents in the Racing Form and baseball fans sized up hitters by the tables in The Sporting News. Newspapers published an avalanche of statistics evaluating business acumen by quarterly earnings, literature by copies sold, and drama by the number of weeks on Broadway. Many observers considered such quantitative reasoning a national trait. 'If the English are a nation of shopkeepers, Americans are a nation of expert accountants', critic and playwright Eugene R. White observed..."

 Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel, The New York Times, April 2011:


"...When we are busy focused on common organizational goals, like quarterly earnings or sales quotas, the ethical implications of important decisions can fade from our minds. Through this ethical fading, we end up engaging in or condoning behavior that we would condemn if we were consciously aware of it.


The underlying psychology helps explain why ethical lapses in the corporate world seem so pervasive and intractable. It also explains why sanctions, like fines and penalties, can have the perverse effect of increasing the undesirable behaviors they are designed to discourage..."

John Cassidy, The New Yorker, November 29, 2010:


 "...On Wall Street dealing desks, profits and losses are evaluated every afternoon when trading ends, and the firms’ positions are “marked to market”—valued on the basis of the closing prices. A trader can borrow money and place a leveraged bet on a certain market. As long as the market goes up, he will appear to be making a steady profit. But if the market eventually turns against him his capital may be wiped out. “You can create a trading strategy that overnight makes lots of money, and it can take months or years to find out whether it is real money or luck or excessive risk-taking,” Philippon explained. “Sometimes, even then it is hard.” Since traders (and their managers) get evaluated on a quarterly basis, they can be paid handsomely for placing bets that ultimately bankrupt their companies. “In most industries, a good idea is rewarded because the company generates profits and real cash flows,” Philippon said. “In finance, it is often just a trading gain. The closer you get to financial markets the easier it is to book funny profits...."

 I have worked in organizations who were obsessed with quarterly performance.

Sometimes I thought there was  little else happening. You closed the current quarter and projected the next. Or you closed the next quarter and projected the current. Or whatever.

The person who was an outstanding employee got fired in the next and the person who was an obscure also-ran became the guy to watch.

I have already shared  following great cartoon on the subject of being accountants on August 30 2007.
Artist: Sam Gross, The New Yorker,  January 11 1993

Now, I share another great cartoon I came across in March 2014


Artist: David Borchart, The New Yorker, March 2014

Was man's life as boring as this, even in caves?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Devaki Unlike Danaë Did Not Meet a Titian

Today August 17 2014 is Krishna Janmashtami (कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी)


Sheila Hale, 'Titian His Life', 2012: 

"...The most we can say is that, although Titian’s portrayals of women inviting or – in the case of his two versions of the Danaë – actually engaging in the sexual act were painted for rich men to enjoy in private, they are the work of an artist who loved women and understood them with a tenderness and understanding that may have eluded his erotomaniacal best friend, who wore his sexuality like a badge of honour while Titian revealed his in a way that speaks to us across the centuries more persuasively than words..."  

There are so many parallels between Greek and Hindu mythologies.

I recently realised the common theme in Devaki's and Danaë's.

Although great literature based on Hindu mythology exists in India, the great paintings based on them, unlike Greek mythology, don't.

A case in point is the following painting based on the myth of Danaë. ( "Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, Acrisius asked an oracle if this would change. The oracle told him that he would be killed by his daughter's son. Danaë was childless and, meaning to keep her so, he shut her up in a bronze tower or cave. But Zeus came to her in the form of golden rain, and impregnated her. Soon after, their child Perseus was born..."...Perseus goes on to kill Acrisius...)



Artist: Titian, '


, what’s most erotic about the painting is, I think, the woman’s right hand, the fingers of which are shown raking sensuously through a clutch of rumpled bed linen. The effect isn’t quite porn, but it’s erotic as heck, the frankly carnal specificity of the gesture barely veiled by what Brown calls the painting’s “mythological gloss.” The woman in “Danaë” has the weight of flesh..."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fallen cold and dead: O Captain! My Captain! Robin Williams




Daily Mail: In deep depression and beset by money-worries, Robin Williams cut wrist and hanged himself as unwitting wife slept in another room

Albert Camus, 'The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays', 1942/1955:

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest—whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories—comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer."
 
John Keating, played by the late Robin Williams in 'Dead Poets Society', 1989:

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer: that you are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

Tom Hanks via FB:

"Let's remember the fiery genius, the long, long strings of laughter, the awe at the energy and the performances that lit up the room, the screen, the world. Let's remember Robin Williams. Hanx"

Woody Allen, 'Crimes and Misdemeanors', 1989:

"Where I grew up... in Brooklyn, nobody committed suicide... you know, everyone was too unhappy."

Looks like Mr. Williams was happy. 

I adore Robin Williams in quite a few of his films and have watched them multiple times but I particularly love him in Patch Adams (1996) and Dead Poets Society (1989).

They are scathing commentary on our education system, apart from many other things like parenting, medical care etc.




Stills from 'Dead Poets Society', 1989

courtesy: the copyright owner of the film / Touchstone Pictures