Is our new generation missing out on most important things in life?

Those who are satisfied with technology say that we have entered the digital age. Whereas, those who still think that technology can make our lives better say that, we are entering the digital age. Whatever the case might be, it’s certain that we are changing and we have changed a lot, especially in the past few years. We cannot stop change from happening. Change is the law and everything changes for the better. But, the problem is, in past few years, we have changed so quickly that we seem to have lost touch with some of the important values of our past.

Technology is quickly stealing from our lives things that make it worth living. We have so much, but still we yearn for more. There has never been a generation so filled with a desire to achieve something. Though this desire to achieve is necessary for the growth of an individual or a community, however, it would only be fruitful if it adds to the achievements of our past. If it replaces them, then it might prove disastrous. To better understand the situation let us reckon few of the invaluable things that we are slowly loosing because of rising modernization.

  1. Sense of wonder

     

    sense of wonder
    Image by Fathromi Ramldon via Pixabay

There was a time when people (especially kids) used to be mesmerized by such simple things. You didn’t have to do much in order to awake their sense of wonder. A simple movie, a greeting card, a letter, all these things used to make everyone so happy. We had few possessions but we used to value them so dearly.

But, what has happened now? We send greetings to tons of people on Facebook every day. We send thousands of messages. We have countless virtual friends and material possessions. Nevertheless, material things don’t make us happy anymore. It seems like because of quantity, we have lost the touch with quality.

  1. Solitude

     

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    Image by Johnnie Shannon via Pixabey

One can say that our generation spends too much of time alone. However, it doesn’t mean that we live in solitude. The word solitude has some sort of a poetical meaning to it. It has often been associated with religion and meditation. But right now, this very piousness of solitude is being stolen by our smartphones. You can never say that a person who is engaged on his smartphone is spending his time in solitude. But, this is what we do when we are alone. We have learnt how to discover things on the internet, but we seem to have forgotten how to discover things within ourselves.

  1. Honesty

    honesty
    Image by Varun Kulkarni via Pixabey

We see people over the internet who seem so intelligent and so good looking. Pretension has become extremely easy in digital age. The difference between who we actually are and what we pretend to be is becoming greater with each passing day. Honesty means accepting your mistakes and acknowledging your stupidity. But, this is something people rarely do nowadays. There are just people wanting to be great, and there are others who pretend to be great. Nobody likes to be a simple human being. Honesty has become out of fashion.

  1. Love for nature

    nature lover
    Image by Free-Photos via Pixabay

Yet another form of pretension that we indulge in is our love for nature. It isn’t hard to find people over the internet who say that they are nature lovers. At times, you’d come across people that came back from a one day trip to a hill station with thousands of pictures. This makes us wonder whether they really love nature or pretend to do so. It is clear that they were more interested in taking pictures than admiring the beauty of the landscape.

  1. Poetry

    Poetry
    Image by  BRRT via Pixabay

For modern day youth poetry is simply words that rhyme. They don’t understand the beauty of it. Their minds are filled with myriad impressions of Television serials and fast-paced movies. It is impossible for them to comprehend the subtle beauty of poetry. No wonder there aren’t a few people that say that poetry is dead now.

  1. Patience

    Patience
    Image by Devanath via Pixabay

We don’t go out to buy groceries, we don’t have to go out to pay bills, we can do all these things within a few minutes using our smartphones. This has helped us in saving our valuable time. But, on the other hand, it has made our time a bit too valuable. We can’t wait for anything now. Slow internet is the reason why most of the people are sad nowadays. They don’t know how to be patient. They don’t realize that being patient could be the solution of many of their problems.

Summary

No matter how many blames we heap on technology, it has certainly done us a lot of good. It is just the overindulgence in it that is making us sick. So, we must find ways to make sure that we don’t spend the entire day in front of our laptop or smartphones. Life is still beautiful, but unless we see it the way it is, we won’t be able to live it the way we should.

Best translations of non-English classics of literature

If you are an avid reader then you might know that English isn’t the only language in which great books  have been written. A number of them have also been written in languages other than English. And if you don’t know those languages, then you are bound to read the English translation of those books.

You can find plenty of  translations of every great book. But you must not rely on famous publishing houses for providing you with the best translations. And it would be a pity if you reject a great book just because you came across a faulty translation. So, before forming an opinion about a book, you must go through at least a few translations.

For your reference, here’s a list of some great works of literature and a few of their acclaimed translations:

 

1. Iliad by Homer

Iliad

Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem which is generally attributed to a poet named Homer. It depicts many important events that happened during the last year of the Trojan War. It was written in 12th Century B.C. in a language called Homeric Greek.

Iliad is very hard to translate as ancient Greek is quite different from English. And on top of that, Iliad is a poem, which makes translating it even more difficult. Nevertheless, it has been translated hundreds of times in English since the 16th Century.

Here are a few of translations that you must try:

1. Richmond Lattimore(1951) : A more literal and less poetical translation. Lattimore tried his best to avoid any poetical outbursts in order to preserve the original structure of the book.

2. Robert Fagels (1990) : Fagels was a poet himself. His translation is very elegant and full of poetical beauty. It provides a great contrast to Lattimore’s more literal translation.

3. Robert Fitzgerald (1974) : In his translation, Fitzgerald altered the verse of the poem to make it fit more easily into the tradition of English poetry. It’s a bit difficult when compared to other modern translations, but definitely worth a try.

4. Alexander Pope (1715) : If you want Iliad to sound like some old Victorian poem then you must read Pope’s translation of the book. Its really nice.

 

2. The Divine Comedy by Dante

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It took Dante twelve years to write the Divine Comedy. He started writing it in 1308 and completed it in 1320. Rather than writing his epic in traditional Latin, he chose to write it in the Tuscan dialect of the Italian language. He used a strict rhyme structure called ‘terza rima’ throughout his book.

The Divine Comedy is layered with meaning. It draws upon a wide number of influences, ranging from Greek philosophy and Christian theology to Dante’s own personal life. It would be best if you read it in the original Italian as this book doesn’t have any definitive translation.

Still, some translators have partially succeeded in recreating the magic of Dante’s writing. Here are a few of them:

1. John Ciardi(1970) : Ciardi’s translation is one of the best modern translations of Divine Comedy. Even though he is not completely faithful to the original book. He follows Dante in his rhyme scheme and expression, but he would never ruin a difficult passage by making it too literal.

2. Robert and Jean Hollander(2007) : The Hollander translation doesn’t follow Dante’s rhyme scheme, but still it’s very smooth and poetical. The choice of words is simple and it is  very easy to read.

3. Allen Mandelbaum (1984) : Mandelbaum’s translation is very faithful to the original in terms of the meaning. It’ll be the best translation from the point of view of a scholar. And even a reader won’t dislike it.

4. Dorothy L. Sayers (1962) : Sayers did a commendable research on Divine Comedy. Her translation completely follows the ‘terza rima’. But the quality of her work varies throughout the book.

5. Robert Pinsky (1995) : Pinsky translated only the inferno. And did a great job. His version has everything that a good translation needs. It’s a must read.

6. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1867) : Longfellow’s version is quite old and archaic but it’s still quite relevant. His poetry closely follows Dante’s and is never dull. It’s really worth a try.

 

3. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes

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Don Quixote is a Spanish novel written by Miguel De Cervantes. It was published in two volumes. The first volume was published in 1605 and the second was published in 1615. It is considered as one of the greatest works of literature.

Some of the prominent translations of Don Quixote are listed below:

1. Edith Grossman(2003) :  Her translation has been called a great achievement. The language that Grossman uses is quite modern. Throughout her translation she has preserved the meaning of the original book.

2. John Rutherford(2000) : Another nice modern translation of Don Quixote. It is less literal and more humorous than Grossman’s translation.

3. Burton Raffel(1995) : A very simple and accessible translation of the book.

4. John Ormsby(1885) : As a translation, Ormsby’s version is surprisingly close to the original. It’s very accurate and was written in sort of an old fashioned English. It had remained as the standard edition for a long time. Even now reading it is always an enriching experience.

5. Tobias Smollett(1761) : Smollett wrote the first noteworthy English translation of Don Quixote. It contains a lot a outdated words. But if you have a nice annotated version of the book with you then that’s not a problem.

 

4. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is one of the most celebrated works of Franz Kafka. He wrote it in German in 1914. His style is very intense and clear. It’s almost inimitable in English. But, ironically it was English translations of Kafka’s works that made him famous.

Here are a some important translations:

1. Edwin and Willa Muir (1933) : The first English translation of Kafka that appeared in print. It remained as the standard for a long time. It might seem a little less modern to us but the English that Muirs used is contemporary to Kafka’s German.

2. John R Williams (2014) : It’s a very recent translation. The choice of words and sentence structure, though not always similar to the original, are very remarkable. Overall, it’s pretty nice.

3. Joachim Neugroschel(1993) : A nice readable translation of the book. One worth consideration.

4. Michael Hoffman(2007) : The word preference of Hoffman is often questionable. Yet his translation successfully preserves some of Kafka’s black humor.  If you are reading Kafka for the first time then you might like his translation.

 

5. Petersberg by Andrei Bely
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Petersberg is Andrei Bely’s masterpiece. It was published in the original Russian in 1916. It is considered as one of the most important works of 20th Century Russian literature. Despite that, it was unknown to the outside world for decades as it didn’t have any translation.

Also, this book had two editions. The first edition was published in 1916. Later, Bely thought that his book didn’t get the response that he expected. So, he edited it and published a briefer version of the book in 1922. The translations of both the versions are available.

The first English translation of the book appeared in 1959. So far, only four English translations of this book have appeared. Here are they:

1. Maguire and Malsmsted(1978) : It is a deeply researched translation of the book. It comes with a lot of notes. It is the translation of the shorter version of the book.

2. David Macduff (1995) : It is the first translation of the longer version of the book. Everything is pretty much fine about it. You can put your money on it.

3. John Elsworth(2009) : Another translation of the longer version of the book. Elsworth also did some research on musicality of Bely’s work. And you can see it’s effect in his translation. It’s very smooth. Anyway, his translation won the Rosicca translation prize in 2009.

4. John Cournos(1959) : Cournos was the first person to translate Petersburg. He set a benchmark for all the translators that followed him. He translated the shorter version of the book.

 

(NOTE: All the translations of the books are merely suggestions. I have read only a few of them and learnt about the rest through reviews, posts and discussions etc.)

How ancient Indian mystics discovered the laws of the universe

After thousands of years of speculation and scientific exploration, we have landed upon the same doubts about the origin of the universe as ancient Indian mystics did.

We can make a guess about what happened less than a trillion-trillionth second after the big bang, but still we do not know anything about the origin of the universe.

And ancient Indian mystics probably confronted similar doubts when they wrote the following:

“But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
the gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?”

(It is the translation of one portion of ‘Nasadiya Sukta’ from ‘Rigveda’.
‘Rigveda’ is one of world’s oldest surviving texts and ‘Nasadiya Sukta’
is the part of ‘Rigveda’ which deals with matters related to cosmology and
origin of the universe.)

Not only are our doubts similar to those of ancient Indian sages, even our route of inquiry is similar.

Our efforts in search of the origin

In 1964 two American scientists named Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson built a very sensitive radio antenna. When they turned it on, they encountered a strange unaccountable noise.  First they thought that radio signals from the city are interfering with their instrument. But later on they found out that the noise which they were receiving was CMBR (Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation), the very noise of the Big Bang. In 1978 both Penzias and Wilson received a Noble Prize for this discovery.

Later, in 2013, after analyzing the same CMBR signals for about three years, Planck space observatory presented an image of the universe when it was in an early stage (about 380K years old).

There’s no other image that shows our universe in such an early stage. This image has become the basis of all our speculations about the past and the future of the universe.

What ancient Indian mystics did

According to Vedic scriptures, ancient Indian mystics used to treat their own body and mind as instruments. They devised techniques to master them. They said that to experience higher truths a man must become a Yogi (a balanced man). And in order to become a Yogi, one must go through a very tough and disciplined life.

Once a man became a Yogi, then along with other such Yogis, he would go into deep meditation. And in that state of meditation all of them experienced certain visions and vibrations.

And after that, to give an expression to their experiences, they used an extremely logical and highly complex language which we call Vedic Sanskrit.

They described their experiences as Sruti (which means ‘that which is heard’), and what they wrote was a mixture of both descriptive poetry and philosophy.

No one ever took the authorship of Vedas. The mystics claimed that they have written what they heard and that Vedas are divine. They also said that the knowledge of the Vedas is present throughout the universe and Vedas state the very laws of the universe.

 

Conclusion

Vedas are one of the earliest surviving texts of  mankind. So, it’s very hard for us to understand them. It is also said that it’s impossible to translate Vedas into any known language without misinterpreting them.

Nevertheless, because of our recent scientific discoveries, we can see Vedas in an entirely different light now.

Like CMBR appears very analogous to the vibrations that mystics had experienced, and the portion of Vedas about creation confirms our modern view.

So, if we stop regarding Vedas as old, obscure and unimportant texts, and if we start putting efforts in scientifically deciphering them, then there’s a possibility that we might encounter some grand revelations.

 

 

 

Prophetic artists: How deep a work of art can be?

In the 1969 documentary entitled BBC Civilization, Kenneth Clark used the following words  to describe one of the paintings by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

“This might seem to me the most convincing one might even say the most realistic of the rare attempts of finite man to set down infinite energy. As even the photographs of the formation of stellar nuclei show very much the same swirling movement.”

 

The painting in question is the one depicting the biblical verses where God separates light from darkness. It is quite complex when compared to the simple biblical verses, and the actual inspiration behind it remains unknown. But, as Kenneth Clark said, it does slightly resemble the pictures of a stellar nuclei, which as we know, lies at the root of our creation.

It might be a mere coincidence. But, if it is, then it certainly isn’t the only one. The world of art is full of them. And, curiously enough, in comparison to others these coincidences happen more frequently in the works of great artists.

 

Artists and some of their prophetic works

An artist is someone who has a gift of expression. This gift could be of any kind. It might be of painting, sculpture, music, writing  or (as it often happens) the person might be gifted in more than one respect . But, there are only a few mediums which allow the artist to express something that might contain a prophetic insight. Mediums like writing and painting are best suited for that purpose.

It isn’t hard to misinterpret something vague and call it prophetic. And there are plenty of works of art that suffer from such misinterpretations. But, at times we encounter a resemblance that is so striking that we cannot help noticing the similarity.

So, here’s a list of a few artists who are known to have created some genuinely prophetic works of art:

 

1. Jules Verne

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Jules Verne was a French writer who was born in 1828. He was one of the first and one of the few science fiction writers of the 19th Century.

He lived in a pre-modern  era where one couldn’t even dream about the modern day technological advances. And yet, in his works, he successfully predicted many of them.

His list of predictions include: electric submarines, news broadcast, video-conferencing, light propelled spacecrafts and lunar sails.

No science fiction writer has ever predicted as many inventions as he did. And some of his prophecies are still unfulfilled.

 

2. Pablo Picasso

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Of 20th century painting it is said that there were three types of painters back then:

  1. Painters who followed Pablo Picasso.
  2. Painters who were influenced by Pablo Picasso.
  3. And Pablo Picasso himself.

Each of his paintings was celebrated as a new revelation, and he created about 2000 paintings in his lifetime.

Picasso’s works are so complex and his time was in such a direct contact with his art that it’s absolutely impossible to determine it’s exact influence. But, there are a few instances that show us it’s extent.

One of them was concerning the use of camouflage in military.  It is said that when Picasso saw a camouflaged truck for the first time, he exclaimed to his friend:
“Yes, it is we who made it. That is cubism”

 

3. James Joyce

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James Joyce is regarded as one of the most influential and important writers of the 20th Century. He based all his works on real life and real people. But, unlike other artists, he himself proclaimed that his works are prophetic. And his claims weren’t baseless. Here are a few instances which justify them:

  • Once a man named Gray said that he disliked a story called ‘A Painful Case’ which was written by Joyce. The story was about the death of a lonely woman, and Gray said that he knew the woman of that story, and it wasn’t nice of Joyce to write about her. But, when he was asked about the time when that woman had died, then he said that she died in 1909. And Joyce on the other hand wrote that story in 1905.

 

  • Joyce was betrayed by his friend Vincent Cosgrave. He took his revenge by mentioning Cosgrave in his books under the name of Lynch (also means hanging), and in his most famous book he ultimately denounced him as Judas (the disciple of Jesus who betrayed him and committed suicide) . And this proved prophetic when five years after the publication of his book Cosgrave committed suicide by throwing himself from the London Bridge.

 

4. Albert Einstein

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Who doesn’t know about Einstein? He was a great scientist, and it won’t be wrong if we also call him a great artist.

In 1905 he came up with the idea of special relativity and by 1911 he had built upon it the grand idea of general relativity.

Einstein’s ideas were based upon the experimental findings of many of his contemporary scientists. And by using those findings he made very grand and almost unreal speculations.

Initially other scientists were cautious in admitting the veracity of his theory.  But ultimately, an experiment performed during the solar eclipse of 29 May 1919 confirmed all of Einstein’s theoretical speculations and he became a celebrity overnight.

 

Conclusion

By reaching new limits of expression artists have shown us an unbiased reflection of ourselves. And not only that, they have also probed into the very nature of things and made us realize that no matter how advanced we are, we still don’t know much about the world that we live in.