martes, 28 de octubre de 2014

Milan Kundera Fragment from Immortality

[…] ‘You, I believe, have guessed where I am from.’
‘Yes,’ says Agnes. She knows that the guest has come from another, distant planet, one with an important status in the universe. And she quickly adds, with a shy smile: ‘is life better over there?’
The visitor only shrugs: ‘Agnes, surely you know where you are living.’
Agnes says: ‘Perhaps death must exist. But was there no other way to arrange things? Is it really necessary for a person to leave a body behind, a body that must be buried in the ground or thrown into a fire? It’s all so horrible!’
‘That’s well known all over, that the Earth is horrible,’ says the visitor.
‘And another thing,’ says Agnes. ‘Perhaps you’ll consider this question silly: those who live in your place, do they have faces?’
‘No. Faces exist nowhere else but here.’
‘So then those who love over there, how do they differ from one another?’
‘They’re all their own creations. Everybody, so to speak, thinks himself up. But it’s hard to talk about it. You cannot grasp it. You will some day. I came to tell you that in the next life you won’t return to Earth.’
Of course, Agnes knew in advance what the visitor would say to them, and she was hardly surprised. But Paul is amazed. He looks at the visitor, looks at Agnes and she has no choice but to say: ‘and Paul?’
‘Paul won’t stay here either,’ says the visitor. ‘I’ve come to tell you that. We always tell people we have selected. I only want to ask you one question: do you want to stay together in your next life, or never meet again?’
Agnes knew the question was coming. That was the reason she wanted to be alone with the visitor. She knew that in Paul’s presence she would be incapable of saying: ‘I no longer want to be with him’. She could not say it in front of him nor he in front of her, even though it is probable that he too would prefer to try living the next life differently, without Agnes. Yet saying it aloud to each other’s face, ‘We don’t want to remain together in the next life,’ would amount to saying ‘no love ever existed between us and no love exists between us now’. And that’s precisely what is so impossible to say aloud, for their entire life together (already over twenty years of life together), has been based on the illusion of love, an illusion which both of them has been anxiously guarding and nurturing. And so whenever she imagined this scene, she knew that when it came to the visitor’s question she would capitulate and declare against her wishes, against her desire: ‘Yes. Of course. I want us to be together in the next life.’
But today for the first time she was certain that even in Paul’s presence she would find the courage to say what she wanted, what she really wanted, in the depth of her soul; she was certain that she would find this courage even at the price of ruining everything between them. Next to her she heard the sound of loud breathing. Paul had really fallen asleep. As if she were putting the same reel of film back in the projector, she ran through the whole scene once again: she is speaking to the visitor, Paul is watching them with astonishment, and the guest is saying: ‘In your next life, do you want to stay together or never meet again?’(it is strange: even though he has all the necessary information about them, terrestrial psychology is incomprehensible to him, the concept of love unfamiliar, so he cannot guess what a difficult situation he would create by his sincere, practical and well-intended question.)
Agnes gathers all her inner strength and answers in a firm voice: ‘We prefer never to meet again.’
These words are like the click of a door shutting on the illusion of love.

-Milan Kundera

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