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Milan Kundera: The unbearable lightness of being

Restless night, Dream about writing and about the books I am reading. Up around 4.30 a.m. Online to Blog. I feel I need to get some ideas down, to ‘externalise’ once again this conversation I have with myself.

Red Nose Day

Reading ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being.’

I came to this book, via the film, via my Tereza (Juliette Binoche) and my Sabina (Lena Olin), my vulnerable teenager lover who became mistress to another … and to me. She was my girlfriend and my childhood sweetheart.

‘Any schoolboy can do physics experiments in the laboratory to test various scientific hypotheses. But man, because he has only one life to live, cannot conduct experiments to test whether to follow his passion (compassion) or not.’ Milan Kundera.

Is life a ‘botched long-distance race?

It’s become that for me. I once detested wasting five minutes in a day and had counted the minutes. I now waist five days, five weeks, even five weeks. I’ve kept little record of what I’ve done for the last year. Just as I can’t keep a journal if I am ill, so I find I have no desire to ‘converse’ with myself like this if I am deeply depressed. Being unwilling to keep my journal is both a symptom and a cause of the depression. The less I ‘post,’ the more days I miss, the more depressed I become, the more disabled I feel.

‘Express the value of your body in terms of the modesty you accord it.’

‘If love is to be unforgettable fortuitous must immediately flutter down to it like birds to Francis of Assisi’s shoulders.’

There are moments of poetry like this, tucked into the narrative.

On the one hand Milan Kundera is a philosopher, attempting to offer an objective appraisal of human relationships, whilst on the other he twists in this strands of subjectivity. We live our lives like this, struggling to comprehend our actions and our emotions.

What makes us who we are?

‘The crew of her soul rushed up to the deck of her body.’

This is when Tereza fell in love with Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis).

I love lines like this, the way it is expressed, my sympathy for the emotion; my recollection of times likes this. When you hope that you love will be reciprocated, after a gamble, you don’t know whether you will be accepted or rejected. I was on tenterhooks for weeks with Wanda, which explains the depth of our love – I hope. There was no quick fix fuck, no one-night stand; no will this lust turn into love.

‘When you sit face to face with someone who is pleasant, respectful, and polite, you have a hard time reminding yourself that nothing he says is true, that nothing is sincere. Maintaining non-belief (constantly, systematically, without the slightest vacillation) requires a tremendous effort and the proper training – in other words, frequent police interrogations.’ On Tomas versus the Czech communists.

‘Love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into poetic memory.’

There is an emotional value to the way feelings are expressed and recorded.

‘Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third or fourth life in which to compare various decisions.’

It is a film premise – getting life over, having a second or third chance.

We are stuck with the choices we make, the decisions we make, the rash or the brave, the impulsive or well considered, the emotional or objective. Sometimes the best decision to take is no decision at all.


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