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jueves, 17 de julio de 2014

Milan Kundera, 12 fragments from SLOWNESS



1.
… he is caught in a fragment of time cut off from both the past and the future; he is wrenched from the continuity of time; he is outside time; in other words, he is in a state of ecstasy; in that state he is unaware of his age, his wife, his children, his worries, and so he has no fear, because the source of fear is in the future, and a person freed of the future has nothing to fear.


2.
The religion of orgasm: utilitarianism projected into sex life.


3.
“Forgive me,’ I say, “you’re the victim of my crazy imagination.”


4.
The only thing left for us is to revolt against the human condition we did not choose.


5.
In that slowness, I seem to recognize a sign of happiness.


6.
You’re astonished: where, in that terrain so rationally organized, mapped out, delineated, calculated, measured – where is there room for spontaneity, for “madness”, where is the delirium, where is the blindness of desire, where is the “mad love” that the surrealists idolized, where is the forgetting of self? Where are all those virtues of unreason that have shaped our idea of love? No, they have no place here.


7.
…but that is not where they make love; as if Madame de T. meant to head off a too powerful explosion of the senses and prolong the period of arousal as much as possible, she draws him toward the room next door, a grotto deep in darkness and all tufted in cushions; only there do they make love, lengthily and slowly, until the break of day.
By slowing the course of their night, by dividing it into different stages, each separate from the next, Madame de T. has succeeded in giving the small span of time accorded them the semblance of a marvelous little architecture, of a form. Imposing form on a period of time is what beauty demands, but so does memory. For what is formless cannot be grasped, or committed to memory.


8.
There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. Consider this utterly commonplace situation: a man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically, he slows down. Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.
In existential mathematics, that experience takes the form of two basic equations: the degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.


9.
The feeling of being elect is present, for instance in every love relation. For love is by definition an unmerited gift; being loved without meriting it is the very proof of real love. If a woman tells me: I love you because you’re intelligent, because you’re decent, because you buy me gifts, because you don’t chase women, because you do the dishes, then I’m disappointed; such love seems a rather self- interested business. How much finer it is to hear: I’m crazy about you even though you’re neither intelligent nor decent, even though you’re a liar, an egotist, a bastard.


9.
We are all dancers, as you say. I would even say; either we’re dancers or we’re deserters.


10.
She rises and goes to the closet; she opens it to consider the few dresses she has hung there; the dresses appeal to her; they rouse a vague but strong wish to not let herself be driven from the scene; to pass again through the precincts of her humiliation; to not consent to her defeat; and if defeat there is, to transform it into great theater, in the course of which she will set her wounded beauty shining and deploy her rebellious pride.


11.
Poor fellow, he does not know that it’s still her game he is playing, that he is still a manipulated thing even at the moment he believes he has found power and freedom in his anger.



12.
Because beyond their practical function, all gestures have a meaning that exceeds the intention of those who make them; when people in bathing suits fling themselves into the water, it is joy itself that shows in the gesture, notwithstanding any sadness the divers may actually feel. When someone jumps into the water fully clothed, it is another thing entirely: the only person who jumps into the water fully clothed is a person trying to drown; and a person trying to drown does not dive headfirst; he lets himself fall: thus speaks the immemorial language of gestures.


-Milan Kundera (Slowness)


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