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.”

Albert Einstein: “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.” (To P. Moos, March 30, 1950. Einstein Archives 60-587)

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, March 16, 2018

' मी लाय' कत्तल@50...Kill Anything that Moves

#MaiLaiMassacre50  #मीलायकत्तल

Today March 16 2018 is 50th anniversary of one of the sorriest chapters in human history: The Mai Lai Massacre (मी लाय कत्तल), Vietnam

Barbara W. Tuchman , ‘The March of Folly : From Troy to Vietnam’, 1984:

“Ignorance was not a factor in the American endeavor in Vietnam pursued through five successive presidencies, although it was to become an excuse. Ignorance of country and culture there may have been, but not ignorance of the contra-indications, even the barriers, to achieving the objectives of American policy. All the conditions and reasons precluding a successful outcome were recognized or foreseen at one time or another during the thirty years of our involvement. American intervention was not a progress sucked step by step into an unsuspected quagmire. At no time were policy-makers unaware of the hazards, obstacles and negative developments. American intelligence was adequate, informed observation flowed steadily from the field to the capital, special investigative missions were repeatedly sent out, independent reportage to balance professional optimism—when that prevailed—was never lacking. The folly consisted not in pursuit of a goal in ignorance of the obstacles but in persistence in the pursuit despite accumulating evidence that the goal was unattainable, and the effect disproportionate to the American interest and eventually damaging to American society, reputation and disposable power in the world.

The question raised is why did the policy-makers close their minds to the evidence and its implications? This is the classic symptom of folly: refusal to draw conclusions from the evidence, addiction to the counter-productive. The “why” of this refusal and this addiction may disclose itself in the course of retracing the tale of American policy-making in Vietnam...”

Nick Turse:

“As I came to see the indiscriminate killing of South Vietnamese noncombatants — the endless slaughter that wiped out civilians day after day, month after month, year after year throughout the Vietnam War — was neither accidental nor unforeseeable.”

Kendrick Oliver, History Today, February 2006:

“...The silence that generally surrounds the massacre in contemporary American discourse contrasts not just with the urgent babble of voices offering opinions on the subject at the turn of the 1960s, but also with the persistence of debates about the Vietnam War as a whole...

... Americans, indeed, were far more interested in the character and fate of the perpetrators than those of their victims. As many media commentators noted, there seemed to be nothing in the background of the soldiers involved that explained how they had come to engage so willingly in slaughter...”

Max Hastings, London Review of Books, January 25 2018:

"...The damage inflicted by My Lai on the image of the US and its armed forces as ‘crusaders for freedom’ persists to this day. As so often with stories of this kind, the institutionalised cover-up and the surge of public support for those who carried out the offences, make even uglier reading than the narrative of the original massacre. The apologists for C Company, and indeed for the US army, tried to make a case that, while it may not have been entirely acceptable to murder Vietnamese peasants, it was understandable and excusable. .."

Photo courtesy: Ronald Haeberle, November 1969/ Getty

Viet Thanh Nguyen, ‘Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War', 2016:
“...On a smaller scale and in the middle of the country, the Son My museum that commemorates the My Lai massacre focuses on the singular tragedy of the five hundred people murdered—some raped—by American troops. The aftermath of their story is the same as the common narrative, the triumphant revolution eventually transforming the war-blasted landscape of village and province with verdant fields, new bridges, lively schools, and lovely people. While the photographs that decorate these museums feature real people, the captions underlining them have stamped them flat, as in the Son My museum’s display of Ronald Haeberle’s most famous photograph, underwritten with this: “The last moment of life for villager women and children under a silk cotton tree before being murdered by the U.S. soldiers.” Whoever these civilians and soldiers were in their complex lives and complicated histories, they exist in the caption as victims and villains in a drama that justifies the revolution and the party. The caption as genre echoes the slogan as genre, from Follow Uncle Ho’s Shining Example to Nothing Is More Precious than Independence and Freedom. Slogans like these exemplify the Communist Party’s story of itself, which has become, for now, the official story of the country and the nation...”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

महात्मा फुले आणि आईड्स ऑफ मार्च....Mahatma Phule and Ides of March


Josephine Quinn, The New York Review of Books, March 2018:
"...Altogether, later sources plausibly claim, Caesar fought more than four million Gauls, killed one million, and took as many prisoners—most of whom would have been sold into slavery. The Germans too suffered terrible losses, including one episode when Caesar imprisoned a delegation of German migrants who came to negotiate a truce, stormed their camp, killed the men who resisted, and then sent his cavalry to run down and slaughter the women and children as they fled. Those who were not caught drowned in the Rhine. Other sources tell us that 400,000 people died. Was that the culture then? Not everyone’s, it seems, or not exactly: although the Senate voted sacrifices of thanksgiving on news of the victory, Cato the Younger and other senators proposed that Caesar be extradited to the Germans, not for the massacre itself, but for breaking a truce...."

महात्मा फुले यांनी जुलियस सीझरच्या हत्येबद्दल लिहल आहे..... आज मार्च १५, २०१८ला त्याची नोंद....   

Richard Johnson as Cassius, John Gielgud as Julius Caesar, and Jason Robards as Brutus in Stuart Burge’s film Julius Caesar, 1970
courtesy: International Pictures/Photofest

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

स्टीफन हॉकिंग आणि जयंत नारळीकर ....Things of Which We Cannot See the Bottom Are Not Necessarily Profound

Alexander Waugh, The Spectator, 2010 reviewing Stephen Hawking's 'The Grand Design' :

"If Hawking were really serious about answering the ‘ultimate questions of life’ he should have realised long ago that mathematics and geometry are not the right tools for the task....Stephen Hawking has written a short, occasionally facetious, but generally reliable and informative history of classical and quantum mechanics. That is all. That he has adverted to it as an answer to the ultimate question of life is both annoying and inaccurate, but no doubt commercially sensible. Richard Feynman, the American physicist on whose work Hawking bases much of his own theory, wrote: ‘I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.’ Nothing has changed since Feynman’s death in 1988, and although Hawking may have a far deeper knowledge of quantum mechanics than anyone else on this planet, he still doesn’t understand it. With a little less chutzpah he might also have realised that things of which we cannot see the bottom are not necessarily profound."

John Horgan, ‘Hey, Physics, Get Real!’, 2011:
“.... But more than new ideas, physics desperately needs new facts. Budget cuts have forced into retirement the biggest American particle accelerator, the Tevatron, which helped flesh out the standard model of particle physics. Physicists pining for new data are now pinning their hopes on the Large Hadron Collider, in Switzerland. If and when that hypersensitive contraption gets up to full speed, perhaps it will stumble into a discovery so bizarre that it entices theorists lost in simulated and parallel universes back to reality.
Until then, I tell my students, if you're looking for science books that pose profound metaphysical puzzles, don't bother with the physics best sellers. Instead, check out works by Oliver Sachs, V.S. Ramachandran, and other intrepid explorers of the brain. Science's most thrilling frontier is the one inside our skulls.”

मी स्टीफन हॉकिंग यांची दोन पुस्तके*  विकत घेतली पण त्यातले एकही पान कधी वाचले नाही.  (* खूप महाग, हार्ड कव्हर ठोकळा  'God Created the Integers', 2005  आणि स्वस्त पेपरबॅक 'A Brief History of Time', 1988)

मी त्यांचे एक चरित्र मात्र विकत घेतले आणि थोडे फार वाचले आहे. त्यातील डॉक्टर नारळीकरांवरील भाग वाचा.
"...As well as developing his theory of the origin of the Universe, Hoyle acted as supervisor to a select group of students. One of his charges was a graduate student named Jayant Narlikar. Narlikar had been assigned the task of working through some of the mathematics for Hoyle’s theory as part of the research material for his Ph.D. He also happened to occupy the office next to Hawking’s. Hawking became very interested in Narlikar’s equations. Without too much persuasion, Narlikar shared the research material he was working on and Hawking began to develop the theories further.  During the next few months Hawking spent more and more time walking between his friend’s office and his own, clutching pages full of  mathematical interpretations in one hand and leaning heavily on his newly acquired walking stick with the other.

At this point it should be emphasized that Hawking had no malicious intent toward Hoyle or, indeed, Narlikar. He was quite simply curious about the material and was floundering with his own projects. The equations and their meaning were fascinating and perhaps initially more stimulating than his own research. Besides which, the whole approach within the department was one of shared goals and ideals.
Before too long things came to a head. Hoyle decided to make a public announcement of his findings at a meeting of the Royal Society in London. Although it was certainly not without precedent, some of his colleagues considered that he was being overly keen in doing this because the work had not been refereed. Hoyle gave his talk to around a hundred people; at the end there was warm applause and the usual post-lecture hubbub of conversation. Then he asked if there were any questions. Naturally Hawking had attended and had followed the arguments closely. He stood up slowly, clutching his stick. The room fell silent.
“The quantity you’re talking about diverges,” he said.
Subdued murmurs passed around the audience. The gathered scientists saw immediately that, if Hawking’s assertion were correct, Hoyle’s latest offering would be shown to be false.
“Of course it doesn’t diverge,” Hoyle replied.
“It does,” came Hawking’s defiant reply.
Hoyle paused and surveyed the room for a moment. The audience was absolutely silent. “How do you know?” he snapped.
“Because I worked it out,” Hawking said slowly.
An embarrassed laugh passed through the room. This was the last thing Hoyle wanted to hear. He was furious with the young upstart. But any enmity between the two men was short lived—Hawking had demonstrated himself to be too good a physicist for that. But Hoyle considered Hawking’s action to be unethical and told him so. In return, Hawking and others pointed out that Hoyle had been unethical in announcing results that had not been verified. The only innocent party, who no doubt had to bear the full brunt of Hoyle’s anger, was the middleman, Narlikar...."

(‘STEPHEN HAWKING: A Life in Science’ by Michael White and John Gribbin)

   सौजन्य : कॉपीराईट होल्डर्स 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

त्या तीघी...आहिल्याबाई होळकर, आनंदीबाई पेशवे आणि दुर्गाबाई भागवत... Ahilya, Aanandi and Durga

थॉमस हार्डी यांच्या 'फार फ्रॉम दि मॅडिंग क्राऊड' (Thomas Hardy, 'Far From the Madding Crowd'), १८७४ कादंबरीतले एक वाक्य पहा:
".... “I have always this dreary pleasure in thinking over those past times with you—that I was something to you before he was anything, and that you belonged almost to me. But, of course, that’s nothing. You never liked me.”
“I did; and respected you, too.”
“Do you now?”
“How do you mean which?”
“Do you like me, or do you respect me?”
“I don’t know—at least, I cannot tell you. It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs. My treatment of you was thoughtless, inexcusable, wicked! I shall eternally regret it. If there had been anything I could have done to make amends I would most gladly have done it—there was nothing on earth I so longed to do as to repair the error. But that was not possible.”..."

दुर्गा भागवत (१९१०-२००२) त्यांच्या 'पत्रांच्या निसटत्या आठवणी' ('भावसंचित', २०१५ मध्ये समाविष्ट) लेखात आहिल्याबाई होळकर आणि आनंदीबाई पेशवे यांच्यातील पत्र व्यवहाराचा पुनरुल्लेख करतात (पहिला उल्लेख: 'पैस', १९७०).

 आहिल्याबाई (१७२५-१७९५) आणि आनंदीबाई पेशवे (१७४? - १७९४) या १८व्या शतकातील देशाच्या राजकारणातील महत्वाच्या  स्त्रिया, पण बऱ्याच दृष्टीने भिन्न.

जसा काळ गेलाय तशी  आहिल्याबाईंची कीर्ती दिवसेंदिवस वाढत गेलीय.  भारताच्या सध्याच्या लोकसभेच्या स्पीकर (श्री. सुमित्रा महाजन) त्यांना मानणाऱ्या लाखो लोकांपैकी एक आहेत. आनंदीबाईंची प्रतिमा मात्र संपूर्णपणे अनैतिहासिक अशा "ध चा मा" प्रकरणाने मलीन झालेली. त्यात त्या पडल्या राघोबा पेशव्यांच्या पत्नी आणि दुसऱ्या बाजीरावांच्या आई.

कै. म वा धोंड आनंदीबाईंबद्दल त्यांच्या एका लेखात काय म्हणतात ते पहा:
'''स्वामी' आणि पेशवेकालीन मराठी". सत्यकथा, जुलै १९६५ / 'जाळ्यांतील चंद्र : समीक्षालेखसंग्रह', १९९४/१९९८

कृतज्ञता: म वा धोंड यांच्या साहित्याचे कॉपीराईट होल्डर्स आणि राजहंस प्रकाशन, पुणे

आनंदीबाईंचे पत्र आणि  त्यावर आहिल्याबाईंची कृती याचे  दुर्गाबाईंनी ज्या संवेदनशीलतेने वर्णन केले आहे ते अजोड आहे, दुर्गाबाईंच्याच  भाषेत एखाद्या धर्मानुभवासारखा आहे.

आनंदीबाईंनी आपली व्यथा मांडली आणि आहिल्याबाईंनी त्यांना प्रेमाने आणि आदराने वागवले. माझ्या मते एक संवेदनशील स्त्रीच ह्याचे त्याला न्याय देणारे वर्णन करू शकते. आनंदीबाईंच भाग्य की त्यांच्या मृत्यनंतर जवळजवळ पावणे दोनशे वर्षानंतर मराठीतील, भारतातील  एका सर्वोत्तम लेखकाने  त्यांना समजावून घ्यायचा प्रयत्न केला.

ह्या ब्लॉग वरील ऑगस्ट २०, २०१७ ची पोस्ट पहा.

कै. म वा धोंड म्हणतात की "... पुरुष जेंव्हा स्वार्थी, स्वैराचारी , स्त्रैण व भ्याड बनतात , तेंव्हा स्त्रीया राजकारणे करू पाहतात, घराबाहेर पडतात , हातात शस्त्रं धरतात आणि अंती त्यांच्याप्रमाणे बेजबाबदार, उच्छृंखळ, पुरुषी व बदफैली बनतात" ( प्रस्तावना, 'मऱ्हाटी लावणी', १९५६/२००३). 

ह्याचे खंडन मी त्या पोस्ट मध्ये केले होते. 

आहिल्याबाई आणि आनंदीबाई यांच्यातील परस्पर व्यवहार हे आणखी एक उदाहरण आहे की स्त्रीया राजकारण करू लागल्यावर किती जबाबदारीने, परिपक्वतेने आणि संवेदनशीलतेने वागू शकतात याचे. 

कृतज्ञता : दुर्गा भागवतांच्या साहित्याचे कॉपीराईट होल्डर्स 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

भूपेन खखर आणि इसाप....Aesop and Bhupen Khakhar@84

Today March 10 2018 is Bhupen Khakhar's 84th birth anniversary

'You Can’t Please All', 1981 by Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003)

based on Aesop's (c. 620 BCE- 564 BCE) 'The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass'