perfectly timed unexpected beauty and truth

“Should he call her back to Prague for good?  He feared the responsibility.  If he invited her to come, then come she would and offer him up her life…But was it love?  The feeling of wanting to die beside her was clearly exaggerated:  he had seen her only once before in his life!  Was it simply hysteria of a man who, aware deep down of his inaptitude for love, felt the self-deluding need to simulate it?  Looking out over the courtyard at the dirty walls, he realized he had no idea whether it was hysteria or love…He remained annoyed with himself until he realized that not knowing what he wanted was actually quite natural…We can never know what we want, because, living only one life we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.  Einmal ist keinmal, says Tomas to himself.  What happens once, says the German adage, might as well not have happened at all…” 

“Our day-to-day life is bombarded with fortuities or, to be more precise, with the accidental meetings of people and events we call coincidences…is not an event in fact more significant and noteworthy the greater the number of fortuities necessary to bring it about?  Chance and chance alone has a message for us.  If a love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it life birds to Francis of Assisi’s shoulders…Guided by a sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individuals life…Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress…It is wrong then to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences, but it is right to chide the man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life.  For he therefore deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.”

“Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous.  Metaphors are not to be trifled with.  A single metaphor can give birth to love.” –Milan Kundera

I literally picked this book off my roommates shelf the other day and it is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  The movie is great, but the book is pure beauty.  The above is a butchered and repatched version of some of my favorite parts so far that spoke to me at this point in my life.

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One response to “perfectly timed unexpected beauty and truth

  1. Adam F.

    I love that Kundera takes a step back from the characters to interject his own thoughts into the narrative as he weaves it. It reminds me of Herzhog’s narration for Grizzly Man – he can’t let anything pass without comment. Anyway, you’ve stumbled onto one of my favorite books. In the words of John Cusack from High Fidelity, “I’ve read books like ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ and ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, and I think I’ve understood them. They’re about girls, right?”

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