jueves, 10 de julio de 2014

Milan Kundera, Fragment from Ignorance (On leaving a place 2)


He knew very well that his memory detested him, that it did nothing but slander him; therefore he tried not to believe it and to be more lenient toward his own life. But that didn’t help: he took no pleasure in looking back, and he did it as seldom as possible.
What he would have other people, and himself, believe is that he left his country because he could not bear to see it enslaved and humiliated. That’s true; still, most Czechs felt the same way, enslaved and humiliated, and yet they did not run off abroad. They stayed in their country because they liked themselves and because they liked themselves together with their lives, which were inseparable from the place where the lives had been lived. Because Josef’s memory was malevolent and provided him nothing to make him cherish his life in his country, he crossed the border with a brisk step and with no regrets.
And once he was abroad, did his memory lose its noxious influence? Yes; because there Josef had neither reason nor occasion to concern himself with recollections bound to the country he no longer lived in; such is the law of masochistic memory: as segments of their lives melt into oblivion, men slough off whatever they dislike, and feel lighter, freer.

And above all, abroad Josef fell in love, love is the glorification of the present. His attachment to the present drove off his recollections, shield him against their intrusion; his memory did not become less malevolent but, disregarded and kept at a distance, it lost its power over him. 

-Milan Kundera

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