Writing a selfish book

I try very hard to understand that book but fail completely. It is almost impossible to decipher, and when one or two lines of understanding emerge like telephone poles above a flood, they are at once countered by other poles running in the opposite direction. . . . I truly believe that Joyce has this time gone too far in breaking all communication between himself and his reader. It is a very selfish book.

– Harold Nicolson

I am amused by  this reaction to Finnegans Wake of James Joyce. Joyce is no doubt a hard nut to crack, especially in this one.But that is not the point. Harold Nicolson calls it a very selfish book. Selfish not  in the sense of an author’s megalomanic outpourings without regard for the reader’s understanding. But in the sense of an intensely personal book,written for the author himself. The author goes overboard trying to break all communication between himself and the reader !
That is an extreme statement implying a conscious effort on the part of the writer to make himself completely obscure.Apparently the work is not meant to be read because ab initio it is unreadeable. But why write such a book that cannot be read by anybody! Probably the writer writes it for himself (selfish book).
That this is an extreme statement is evident from the fame that the book has earned for the author over the years.

E-books are no books

“I’m sorry to have to tell you that books are now considered an endangered species. By books, I also mean the conditions of reading that make possible literature and its soul effects. Soon, we are told, we will call up on “bookscreens” any “text” on demand, and will be able to change its appearance, ask questions of it, “interact” with it. When books become “texts” that we “interact” with according to criteria of utility, the written word will have become simply another aspect of our advertising-driven televisual reality. This is the glorious future being created, and promised to us, as something more “democratic”. Of course, it means nothing less then the death of inwardness – and of the book. This time around, there will be no need for a great conflagration. The barbarians don’t have to burn the books. The tiger is in the library. “

-Susan Sontag, Where the Stress Falls via The floating library

E-books are supposed to replace paper books in the end ,mere book-screens which will bring any book on demand,as also give you the ability to speak to portions of it ,i.e. They will enable you to potentially break the silence of the words.Words which have lain quiet in the pages of the book for years will now be forced to speak,reply to your answers, recant if necessary on what they have already said while in the burial mode. The authors words have lost their final say.What they say will be subject to newer interpretations ,available not in the reader’s unspoken minds but right there on the screen, to be reinforced and revised as more readers apply their minds to it.

Will the paper books remain ? Looks like they will. There will always be some who prefer the last word as from the author.Wouldn’t one sometimes like the monotone of an author’s drone? And then what happens to the barbarians? Where will they go to burn? Well , they can now burn life-sized effigies of the authors in the city squares.


A biography of Panini,the ancient Sanskrit grammarian


Sanskrit’s] potential for scientific use was greatly enhanced as a result of the thorough systemisation of its grammar by Panini. … On the basis of just under 4000 sutras [rules expressed as aphorisms], he built virtually the whole structure of the Sanskrit language, whose general ‘shape’ hardly changed for the next two thousand years. … An indirect consequence of Panini’s efforts to increase the linguistic facility of Sanskrit soon became apparent in the character of scientific and mathematical literature. This may be brought out by comparing the grammar of Sanskrit with the geometry of Euclid – a particularly apposite comparison since, whereas mathematics grew out of philosophy in ancient Greece, it was … partly an outcome of linguistic developments in India.

A very interesting analysis. Mathematics flowing out of language !  A  fascinating biography of Panini , the greatest of the ancient  Sanscrit grammarians whose 4000 sutras(aphorisms) provide the basic structure of the Sanskrit grammar.

Einstein’s head

Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog: Einstein’s head

    His skull is clearly, and to an extraordinary degree, brachycephalic, great in breadth and receding towards the nape of the neck without exceeding the vertical.The belief has been that genius is the prerogative of the dolichocephales.  The forehead is huge; its breadth exceptional, its spherical form striking one more than its height.

    Einstein: The Life and Times, by Ronald W. Clark, p. 353

      In Darwin’s world man is no longer the divine being but a helpless product of chancy mutation

      The Reluctant Mr.Darwin by Quammen is Darwin’s latest biography that deals with Darwin’s ideas “which were profoundly original,dangerous and thrilling”.Why does life evolve,Darwin wondered. The idea that natural selection is at work-Godless,goalless,scattershot,haphazard- leaves a world of materialism difficult to accept. In this world mutation and recombination are mere accidents.

      Centuries before Copernicus removed the earth from the centre of the universe and now Darwin has removed man as the God’s chosen species among living forms.

      (Reviewer:Gregory M.Lamb)