Saturday, 15 April 2017

Some paradoxical thoughts in Life Is Elsewhere

2 of my blogger friends see nothing in Milan Kundera. 
Me, several years ago, I was interested in his ideas. 
From chapter 9 of Life Is Elsewhere
“… she had realized from the beginning of their intimacy that the painter demanded from her free and astonishing types of erotic expression, that he wanted her to feel entirely free with him, released from everything, from all convention, from all shame, from all inhibition; he liked to say to her ‘I don’t want anything except that you give me your freedom, the totality of your freedom!’ and he wanted at every moment to be convinced of this freedom. Mama had more or less come to understand that such uninhibited behavior was probably something beautiful, but she was all the more afraid that she would never be capable of it. And the harder she tried to know her freedom, the more this freedom became an arduous task, an obligation, something she had to prepare for at home (to consider what word, what desire, what gesture she was going to surprise the painter with to show him her spontaneity), so that she sagged under the imperative of freedom as if under a heavy burden.” 
Today I’m a different person, and a different reader, but that paradox is still interesting. Also interesting is that the painter speaks of freedom but doesn’t allow her freedom of thought. He gives her books, tells her things, wants her to think in a certain way; he wants to reshape her into something else.  
Another paradox, from chapter 10: 
“… She didn’t tell him anything of the kind because such sincerity was contrary to her nature and because she finally wanted again to be herself and she could be herself only in insincerity…” 
This time I’m just going to leave the passages there for you to read and comment on.


  1. Di,

    The paradox reminds me of way back when.

    Back in the '60s, the cliche was that anybody over 30 couldn't be trusted. When I reached 30 in 1968, I felt free because, since nobody trusted me, I was free to act and think as I wished--I had no concerns about acting and thinking in order to "be trusted" any more.

    1. Hahahhahaa.
      Anyway, do you like Kundera?

    2. Di,

      I think I read something by Kundera many years ago, but I checked a list of his works and didn't see anything that looked familiar. In any case, I have never felt an overwhelming need to read him.

    3. Haha.
      I see.
      I used to like him a lot. Mostly because of The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

    4. Di,

      While I don't follow him, I do recognize that title. Since I do, I suspect it's probably his best known or most popular work.

    5. It is his best known work, and there's a film adaptation with Daniel Day-Lewis in the main role.