sábado, 12 de julio de 2014

Milan Kundera, Fragment from Ignorance (On human experience and memory)


… For after all, what can memory actually do, the poor thing? It is only capable of retaining a paltry little scrap of the past, and no one knows why just this scrap and not some other one, since in each of us the choice occurs mysteriously, outside our will or our interests. We won’t understand a thing about human life if we persist in avoiding the most obvious fact: that a reality no longer is what it was when it was; it cannot be reconstructed.


I imagine the feelings of two people meeting again after many years. In the past they spent some time together, and therefore they think they are linked by the same experience, the same recollections. The same recollections? That’s when the misunderstanding starts: they don’t have the same recollections; each of them retains two or three small scenes from the past, but each has his own; their recollections are not similar; they don’t intersect; and even in terms of quantity they’re not comparable: one person remembers the other more than he is remembered; first because memory capacity varies among individuals (an explanation that each of them would at least find acceptable), but also (and this is more painful to admit) because they don’t hold the same importance for each other. When Irena saw Josef at the airport, she remembered every detail of their long-ago adventure; Josef remembered nothing.

From the very first moment their encounter was based on an unjust and revolting inequality.

-Milan Kundera

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