Tuesday, 2 May 2017

"My Struggle-Part Two"-book review

     I finally got to see Knausgaard speak at the Fleck Theatre in Toronto on October 25th.  The highlight was definitely at the end when I had him sign his autograph of one of my favourite excerpts on page 69.  He briefly gave me a smile of hilarity since I had underlined almost all of two pages.  The funny thing is that when I was asked before by a worker there to pick out my favourite page and have if ready for him to sign, I was almost overcome in trying to pick my favourite excerpt.  There are pen underlinings all over my personal version of this novel.  In the end, nothing more effective can be used as an instrument to measure my liking for any piece of literature.
     In part because I had just finished the first book of "My Struggle", but also because Knausgaard's strengths of form as a writer continued, I found Part 2 easily immersed with Part One.  The themes that arose in Part One when Knausgaard talks about his father's traumatic death ranged from topics like solitude, drinking, writing, memory and family.  In Part Two, he maintains the same rich Proustian style while opening other spectrums, as we look at the narrative of life with his wife Linda.  One of these spectrums is his emotional struggles in accepting fatherhood and departing from past individual freedoms.  The crux of his struggles and the duty of his survival was nourished by the never ending search for meaning.  He shows us we often have to search among the banal, intrinsic and daily occurrences for these meanings.  Knausgaard is able to still provide richness to his interior self from these sources.  The evolving stages of a lifetime commitment to another is presented in all shades and colours by Knausgaard.  Internal pendulums swing at various speeds back and forth.  Longing corrupts full enjoyment of this life stage of parenting children and household tasks, but is also perhaps necessary to provide sources of hope, purpose and meaning.
     Knausgaard entangles the theme of death from Part One with birth in Part Two.  The reflections are a middle-aged man's perspective.  The longings and regrets about the past come with the fears and unease about the future.  Many of these feelings are forcefully bottled up and are perhaps only expressed in an extroverted manner through Knausgaard's joyful alcohol consumptions and conversations with his fellow writer friends.  
     The essay style he possesses is able to synchronize perfectly with the narrative.  It is somewhat of a philosophical journey of various ideas, thoughts and theories, that not only resemble Proust but also emanate other great writers like Borges or Bolano.  Like a true existentialist, all Knausgaard can do is attempt to derive meaning from what he knows is a life of uncertainty.  As he says, "the life around me was not meaningful.  I always longed to be away from it.  So the life I led was not my own.  I tried to make it mine, this was my struggle."
      There was no letdown in Part 2 from the brilliant work of Part One.  In fact Part Two is a 21st century, ground-breaking classic.  Life is truly experienced through Knausgaard and his everyday experiences and thoughts.  This is what every writer can only hope to accomplish.  Knausgaard is one of the few that have.

Book Review-Roberto Bolano-"Last Evenings on Earth"

    This collection of short stories centers around Bolano's repeated character depictions and their Odyssey journeys.  The struggling poet coming to terms with Pinochet's takeover of Chile in 1973, the overall violent culture of Latin America, sex, drugs and post-graduate discussions on literature.  The dark, brooding and deep sentences of Bolano, make him one of the most masterful narrators of the post-modern age.  This book has an autobiographical flare, as Bolano's own odyssey was leaving Chile to work in Mexico, returning briefly just before the Pinochet coup, being briefly detained and then becoming the vagabond poet with apparent accounts of drug usage, eventually settling in Spain.
     Some of Bolano's character portrayals, particularly of the vagabond poet or the female whore, border so close to cliche that they almost become terminally offensive after having read about them for several stories in a row.  How many times do we have to hear about the neurotic with their aimless night wanderings(in and out of the watering holes and cheap motels)and meaningless screws?
Unlike when reading "2666" for the first time, where Bolano analyzes modern German literature like it never has been before, within a book of dead bodies and drug intake, the brief interludes in "Last Evenings" into little-known French surrealists and Chilean poets become tiring, as the reader becomes all too aware of Bolano's arching themes.
     A lot can be forgiven, however, when it comes to Bolano's skill as a writer.  He is one of the few who has the ability to be both elegant and brief.  To cover the metaphysical within a brief sentence format.  These are a few of the quotes from "Last Evenings":
                                     "These shadows have a life of their own, says K.  At first B thinks
                                       nothing of her remark.  But then he observes his shadows, or 
                                       perhaps it is hers, and for a moment that elongated silhouette 
                                       seems to be looking askance at him.  It gives him a start.  Then 
                                       all three or four of them are swallowed up by the shapeless dark."
                                       (Days of 1978)
                                    ".....the human race suffering and laughing as it marches toward the
                                      (Vagabond in France and Belgium)
                                    "Well the secret story is the one we'll never know, although we're 
                                     living it from day to day, thinking we're alive, thinking we've got it
                                     all under control and the stuff we overlook doesn't matter.  But 
                                     every single damn thing matters!  Only we don't realize.  We just 
                                     tell ourselves that art runs on one track and life, our lives on
                                     another, and we don't realize that's a lie."

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Silence(poem-rough draft)

A crescent ginger sky
With Sisyphus' inner thoughts at bay
Mirrored in childhood psyche
I get the end of winter alone.

My son a groove in the dining chair
My lover a buoy thrown to the swimmer
I can't explain-
As the bees mirror my forehead.

The architecture has always crumbled and burned-
I could not find the exact materials
But one said plasticine could handle more tension,
Than being alive with displaced eyes.

Book Review-Thomas Piketty-"Capital"

     "Capital" is a landmark publication with possible historical ramifications, dependent in large part, on how the outside world accepts Picketty's no-nonsense approach to the title of his book.  The original publication certainly became a talking point all around the main economic front.  We have to ask why this is the case.  It is in part because Piketty used standard and proper academic practices of proof, in-depth data and explanation.  The other is that his data displayed inequality on a grand scale with at least several ideas that the entire world should ponder, one being that capital will grow faster than the economy in the 21st century and that the money made in return for capital will almost go exclusively to our 1%. 
     Picketty has two other main arguments.  One is that we need transparency with our corporate and economic data.  Without this, it is difficult for us to have clear data to lead us setting policies to quell inequality.  The other important idea is the idea of a global progressive tax as a necessity to help us not go back to the same levels of inequality that existed before WW1.  
    Picketty does an amazingly convincing job in dispelling any more neo-conservative myths attached to the "trickle-down"theory.  He warns us that "there is no natural, spontaneous process to prevent destabilizing, inegaliatarian forces from prevailing permanently."  It is difficult not to see how capital will grow much faster than income.  How inheritance will play a much more prevalent role than it did for the second-half of the 20th century.  He has made at least as strong if not stronger case for redistribution of wealth since Marx.  
     Almost as prominent as Piketty's ideas are his criticisms of his own field of study.  "To put it bluntly, the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation at the expense of historical research and collaboration with other social sciences."  This is Piketty saying that beyond economics, beyond modern theory, his book is a historical study of the Western world since the French Revolution.
     Our projected 21st century economic growth rate of about 1-1.5% is above but still more similar to what was happening in Victorian England, rather than the 1950's in New York or the 1970's in Toronto.  The slower growth is due in part to our slower population growth and increase in average age.  It is noteworthy that up to the Industrial Revolution our economic growth was below 0%.  We have to watch for the growing disparity between return on capital and rate of growth.  Piketty predicts growing disparity between these two will have "powerful and destabilizing effects on the structure and dynamics of social inequality."
     The importance of the middle class cannot be underestimated.  It changed how wealth was distributed during the 20th century.  In 1900 there was no middle class.  At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. was much more egalitarian than its Western European counterparts.  By the late 20th century, the reverse was true.  Inequality was its lowest and the middle class was at its highest (especially from about 1950-80, what many would call the glory years of the American Empire, after FDR's Second Deal).  
     Between 1910-1960, the top incomes were earned mainly through work.  From the 1970's on, the top incomes have been split between work and inheritance.  According to Piketty, inheritance is starting to take over like it did before the economically revolutionary World Wars, which Piketty consents is the reason behind our glorious post-WW2 years.  Otherwise, the middle class has never had much of a life in our history.
     He wants us to change some of our ways of thinking.  "In the long run, unequal wealth within nations is surely more worrisome than unequal wealth between nations."  Both economists and national governments do not have the means, with our lack of transparency, to keep up with the daily global transfer of wealth.  Billionaires today own about 1.5% of the world's private wealth.  More notable is that up to 10% of the world's GDP may be held in unreported tax havens.
     Piketty's major recommendation, the one that we need to consider is a progressive global tax on capital.  It would "expose wealth to democratic scrutiny, which is a necessary condition for effective regulation of the banking system and international capital flows."  This idea is not so much an embrace of taxation("Taxation is neither good nor bad in itself.  Everything depends on how taxes are collected and what they are used for")as more a strong argument for private wealth to come under the public eye.  On a larger scale, Piketty sees taxes as a necessity for society to have a common destiny and produce collective action.  Lower taxes in the U.S. and the UK have not fuelled economic growth above other Western nations.  We had higher economic growth after the two world wars when progressive taxation was put in place.  Piketty concedes, however, that a global progressive tax on capital is a "utopian" idea and unlikely to happen in the near future if at all.  
     Currently, our governments are poor in the Western world, even if our nations seem wealthy.  Our governments are poor because of high public debt.  Piketty examines three methods for curing us of this debt:  taxes, inflation and austerity(aka cutbacks).  With inflation, Piketty worries about how it can become uncontrollable and that it is an imprecise distributor of wealth.  He adds that central banks should be tightly regulated.  With the other two ideas, taxation and austerity, he has a definite liking of the former and a dislike of the latter.
     In the specific case of Greece, the situation is hopeless because the wealthier citizens have thrown their money elsewhere, ruining the hope of any progressive taxation working, while austerity cuts have led to further privatization of public assets and left the nation at the mercy of the EU and the IMF, two institutes that are non-democratic.
     As to what level of public debt is desirable, Piketty says this question cannot be answered until we can collectively decide "what level of public capital is desirable and what is the ideal level of total national capital?"  Piketty even goes further in saying that "debt often becomes a backhanded form of redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, from people with modest savings to those with the means to lend to the government(who as a general rule ought to be paying taxes rather than lending)." We currently spend more on the interest of debt than on higher education.  Debt is definitely a major problem Piketty agrees but his method of progressive taxation is not even considered in the world of economics, with inflation brought up often and austerity presented as being the only choice.
     In "Capital" Piketty observes what was already evident but was not seen as acceptable thinking even five years ago and is still largely discounted today.  That capital growth overrides income,  That our growing inequality is taking us back to what it was like before WW1.  For this, Piketty deserves acknowledgement of courage.  The greater achievement of the book, however, is the expression of his ideas, even if they seem like a faraway utopia at this point.  That the corporate world needs greater transparency("The world is not divided between a political elite on one side and on the other, an army of commentators and spectators, whose only responsibility is to drop a balloting box once every four or five years").  That we need a global progressive taxation system.  Our  planet needs to consider what "Capital" says as the middle class is becoming a rare species.

Book Review-"Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life"- Howard Eiland andMichael W. Jennings

     This biography of Benjamin is widely and well-researched but after having read this, I had to ask myself how well I really knew this individual, whose originality was tragically at a time and place of extreme chaos, unique in human civilization's history.  I read this book with the goal of gaining an understanding of his ideas while swiping aside his hectic lifestyle.  Perhaps more attention should have been paid to his personal life in which he divorced his wife, left his son(though he would see both intermediantly), lost the lady he loved, struggled with suicide and completed his most brilliant work while in exile and financial downturn.  Certainly more focus of mine could have been paid to the Frankfurt School(Adorno, Horkheimer, Lowenthal, Marcuse, Fromm)or Benjamin's close friendship to Brecht.  For necessary enrichment, I will soon have to take on Eiland and Jenning's English translation of Benjamin's "Arcades Project."  
     Today Benjamin is relevant because he reshaped our understanding of important writers like Proust, Kafka and Baudelaire.  His recognition and original insight of technology coordinated with capitalism formed our modern culture.  He was definitely an enigma, arguably unprecedented both before and after.  He was a writer full of montage with a fractured style that was original to the core of post-modern thinking.
     While Eiland and Jennings master the details, their overall argument for his relevance today is unclear.  The Frankfurt School or Institute for Social Research has had a bit of a resurgence lately, along with critical theory in general.  What has to be recognized is that Benjamin was open to the possibilities of the modern world.  He wanted to think that modern culture would lead to a radical change of the system, with Marxism being at the center of his ideal changes.  Often we find Benjamin so internally charged and vibrant that he is highly naive and neglectful to the external world.  Yet unlike his contemporaries, he saw past the debate of whether mechanically produced art was indeed art and instead looked at how it changed art.
       On the subject of education, the youthful Benjamin responds to "What has school given us?", by saying plenty of knowledge but without the ideals to provide direction.  Education is full of "arbitrariness and purposelessness."  If this were to change, Benjamin aptly argues that we needed meaningful institutional change following cultural transformation, which meant an expansion of personal and social horizons.  Benjamin was influenced by Gustav Wyneken and follows Wyneken's lead in saying that in education, the goal is not "improvement but fulfillment."  Benjamin does not want education perverting the "creative spirit into the vocational."  There should be a unity of academic disciplines and a nonhierarchal relation between students and teachers, as well as men and women.  Education is a creative renewal of traditional concepts.  It's purpose is to draw new life from past teachings and evolve.  It aims to achieve a Dasein, a "concrete totality of existence."
     One of Benjamin's notable achievements was when he immersed himself into the literature of Marcel Proust.  He translated the three volume section of "In Search of Lost Time."  Similar to his feelings about Thomas Mann, he thought Proust was a "kindred soul."  He added that, "the most problematical side of his genius is his total elimination of the ethical viewpoint....something that goes together with the supreme subtlety in his observation of everything physical and spiritual.  This is perhaps-in part to be understood as the 'experimental procedure' in this immense laboratory, where time is made the subject of experiments with thousands of reflectors."  This appeared in his essay, "On The Image of Proust."  
    Benjamin was pulled by Proust's "philosophical way of seeing."  In referring to the lesbian scene in "Swann's Way", within every fracture evil explicitly shows its true substance-humanity.  In all of Proust's works, "how the consequent transformation of existence into a preserve of memory centered in the vortex of solitude."  Proust discusses what Benjamin calls "intertwined time," which gives us an "entirely new image of life."  Proust centres on the "counterpoint of aging and remembering is fundamental to the novel in its obsessive quest for happiness."  Benjamin adds that "reality takes shape" only through memory.  In short, the world Proust depicts excludes everything that is involved in production.  In other words, Proust refused to take the bourgeoisie world at face value.
     Another writer Benjamin explored deeply was Kafka.  "Kafka had a rare capacity for creating parables for himself, yet his parables are never exhausted by what is explainable, on the contrary, he took all conceivable precautions against the interpretation of his writings."  Kafka was, according to Benjamin, into the organization of life and labour in society.  To Benjamin, "The Metamorphosis" is a title representing the threat over Kafka's characters, the threat of falling back into an alien-life form.  They feel this threat in the form of shame and are hopeless in the face of judgement.
     "The Arcades Project" is what most followers of Benjamin call his Magnum Opus, written between May 1935 and February 1936 in Paris.  The topics vary from iron construction and photography to the theory of commodity obsession.  The gaming table is the centrepiece symbol, representing an "ontological significance as an image of world play."  Benjamin is able to bring all of his past theoretical positions together in this work.  It is an examination of the role of industry in the form of an19th-early 20th century capitalistic metropolis called Paris.  The main individual in all of this, examined like no other writer was by Benjamin is Baudelaire, antiquating him with the domineering feeling of male alienation.  The relation between the alienated male and the massive city crowd.  The crowd is "the newest intoxicant of the lonely individual."  The crowd "erases all traces of the individual:  it is the newest asylum of the outcast."  According to Benjamin, "Baudelaire's task is to disclose these aspects," the crowd being the "most unfathomable labyrinth."  This is Baudelaire's "manifest task."  
     In modern Paris, in the modern world, the individual is absorbed into the masses and loses all traces of individuality.  The modern urban life is affixed with an illusionary quality.  This affect's the human's ability to have rational thinking.  To Benjamin, Baudelaire's greatness comes from his ability to make himself susceptible to the worst of modern life.  Baudelaire, to Benjamin, gains these mythical qualities of the ex-bourgeois who has to take refuge on the streets.  Everything can turn to allegory.  Eiland and Jennings capture the essence of "The Arcades Project" when they say that "Benjamin was intent on working out a method of historical encapsulation through typifying images in shifting constellations."  Technology raises the human sensory capacity to functioning in a world of traffic.
     In short, while the focus of my reading was not on Benjamin's biographical details(which are tragically and fascinatingly unstable), but rather his production.  However, this biography gives one an understanding of Benjamin for one who is already immersed in his writings.  It helps to have read "The Arcades Project" and other writings of his, to grasp how Walter Benjamin, on a literary, cultural and perhaps philosophical scale, was one of the great dynamic voices of the 20th century.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Book Review-Milan Kundera-"The Unbearable Lightness of Being"

     What makes this novel truly postmodern is that Kundera's philosophy takes precedence, with there being a thin traditional narrative put in the background.  It has a lack of rounded characters, in-depth plot and a setting of Communist Czechoslovakia playing a distant role.  Philosophically, Kundera explores Nietzsche, Rousseau but most of all the subject of the title.  He defines the lightness before it becomes unbearable as kitsch.  Kitsch is a dictatorship of the heart.  In other words, "the brotherhood of man on earth will be possible only on a basis of kitsch."
     The novel has a quartet of main characters, Tomas, his wife Tereza, Sabina and Fritz.  Tomas is a skilled surgeon and womanizer, who ends up in the black books of the totalitarian dictatorship, forcing him to become a window washer.  Tereza took photos of the 1968 protests that unwittingly give the regime information on dissidents.  Sabina is Tomas' lover who ends up escaping to the West.  Fritz is Sabina's other lover, who ends up dying while on a humanitarian mission in Bangkok.
     The novel is essentially about lightness and its comparison to the opposite.  Humans are often blindly stuck in the arrogance of lightness in the secular world.  Kundera says that true human love only comes when the recipient has no power.  This strikes a chord against the modern being.  These type of insights are what make the novel worth reading.  It has the reader think well beyond the pages of the book, which all great novels should do, instead of having us "lost" in the novel.  Kundera's philosophical insights are also what make the book timeless and not frozen within the Iron Curtain age.
     Sabina lives the ultimate lightness.  She abandons family, country, Tomas and Fritz to represent the essence of the title.  She has a lack of commitment, fidelity and moral responsibility.  She has great freedom but it all lacks meaning.  It gives her a disengagement from society.  
     In contrast, Tereza is the great symbol of heaviness who gains much greater approval from the author.  She suffers from her commitment to a husband of daily infidelities but brings about his ruin when she leaves the freedom of Switzerland to go back to Czechoslovakia with Tomas soon following to prove his love to her.  The almost unbearable burdens of commitment and fidelity nearly ruin Tereza. Both lightness and heaviness cause the characters to sink and suffer.
     All moral philosophical stances seem to come up short for Kundera.  Three of the four main characters die and the fourth disappears.  One ideal of his prevails.  Kitsch is an ideal denying the existence of the ruins of life.  Kitsch is present in the Iron Curtain regime under the banner of totalitarian kitsch.  He begins the novel with:  "The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment.  The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.  Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant."  
     Besides Sabina, another main example of lightness was Tomas' infidelity with the female gender.  He "desired but feared them.  Needing to create a compromise between fear and desire, he devised what he called 'erotic friendship'."  He would tell his mistresses:  the only relationship that can make both partners happy is one in which sentimentality has no place and neither partner makes any claim on the life and freedom of the other."  It was sex based entirely on the exclusion of love.  
     Kundera cleverly reminds us that compassion is Latin for "with suffering."  To have compassion, "means not only to be able to live with the other's misfortune but also to feel with him any emotion-joy, anxiety happiness, pain...therefore signifies the maximal capacity of affective imagination, the art of emotional telepathy.  In the hierarchy of sentiments, then, it is supreme."  Tereza has this compassion of heaviness.  For Tomas, loving her was "beautiful but it was also tiring......not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes."   Kundera, in reference to heaviness, uses the example of Beethoven.  His words "Der schwer gefasste Entschluss" or the "difficult solution."  This phrase comes together with "Es musssein."  In other words, of necessity, weight and value, only necessity is heavy and only what is heavy has value, according to Kundera.  This is his major affirmation on the side of heaviness.
     For Sabina, her relationship with Franz was built around her uncontrollable need for him to use physical superiority, even punishment on her.  It was the closest she could come to perceiving heaviness.  The lack of this was why she left him, further signifying her life of abandonment.  "Living in truth, lying neither to ourselves nor to others, was possible only away from the public:  the moment someone keeps an eye on what we do, we involuntarily make allowances for that eye, and nothing we do is truthful."  Lightness is Sabina's decay.  "The goals we pursue are always veiled.  A girl who longs for marriage longs for something she knows nothing about....the thing that gives our every move its meaning is always totally unknown to us."  Sabina's abandonments or betrayals did not give her any clear resolution to finding purpose. 
     Kundera's male bawdiness in the novel is at times tiring.  We get his own version of the worst of Gabriel Marquez.  The magic of the book is that just when you are coming around to despise the novel, he captures you with a gunshot motif that immediately shakes your intellectual senses.  Take "men who pursue a multitude of women fit neatly into two categories.  Some seek their own subjective and unchanging dream of a woman in all women.  Others are prompted by a desire to possess the endless variety of the objective female world.......The obsession of the former is lyrical-what they seek in women is themselves, their ideal, and since an ideal is by definition something that can never be found, they are disappointing again and again.  The disappointment that propels them from woman to woman gives their inconsistency a kind of romantic excuse, so that many sentimental women are touched by their unbridled philandering."  The obsession of the latter is sex.  The men posess few if any subjective ideals upon the woman and since most things interest him, nothing can disappoint him.  This inability to be disappointed has some element of scandal in it.  The epic womanizer strikes people as lacking in redemption or redemption through failure.  An ultimate lightness.  Tomas was of "no subjective ideal."
     Much of the novel is Kundera's seemingly biographical account of the Soviet Union invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.  This section ends up taking a minor role in Kundera's bigger circle discussion of heaviness/lightness.  Especially when sex is brought in as a talking point.  For Tomas, "attaching love to sex is one of the most bizarre ideas the Creator ever had."  Tereza was mainly a source of compassion.  Her role is much heavier.  He feels a part of her body in a dream.  Love's weight has pull.
     For the last part of the novel, we delve into Kundera's definition of kitsch and his disdain for it.  To him the "aesthetic ideal is called kitsch."  It is the "absolute denial of shit."  It "excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence."  A weaker argument of Kundera is when he applies kitsch to the following:  "every display of individualism(because a deviation from the collective is a spit in the eye of the smiling brotherhood); every doubt(because anyone who starts doubting details will end by doubting life itself); all irony(because in the realm of kitsch everything must be taken quite seriously)," is an object to the supposed lightness of the simplicity of totalitarianism.  The heaviness of critical thinking is not allowed.  Kitsch is, as Kundera masterfully puts, "a folding screen set up to curtain off death."  In the totalitarian kitsch, no questions are allowed.  On the other hand, all of us aiming for another's heart, especially in any collective manner, need to apply kitsch to their tactics.  Tereza realizes how all of us are not immune to kitsch.  "None among us is superhuman enough to escape kitsch completely.  No matter how we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition."
     In relation to the 21st century, Kundera summarizes that "we all need someone to look at us."  There are four categories.  In the first, they long "for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words" or a public gaze.  In the second, they need to be looked at by many known eyes.  In the third, the people need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love(ie.Tereza).  The fourth is those "who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present."  They are the dreamers such as Franz.  All categories apply to the heart and require a certain amount of imagination.  "Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion."  In an existential manner, kitsch gives us meaning, despite its premise of falsehood.
     Kundera refers to Nietzsche saving the horse from a coachman's whipping in Turin to make it clear that he prefers Tereza's heaviness over lightness.  He asks and declares the following:  With selfless love, with true human goodness, you do not need to ask does he love me?  Does he love anyone more than me?  Does he love me more than I love him?  Perhaps all the questions we ask of love when we measure, probe and test it, have the added effect of cutting it short.  Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand love from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him, demand freedom and ask for nothing but his company.  At the end of the novel, while soaking in a bath, Tereza realizes she set her lifetime of weaknesses against Tomas.  The cost of love is bestowing one's vulnerabilities onto the other.  Success in a relationship can often be a matter of how much the other can bare.
     Kundera's minimalization of traditional conventions puts the onus on him to keep the reader's attention.  This is where his mastery as a writer shines through and gave it the status of masterpiece.  Kundera was able to do what few writers can accomplish and that is to give the reader a different context on which to measure life.  That is what choice of lifestyle is most worthy in the manner of purpose and meaning.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Poetry excerpts

Small specifics

Winter morning darkness
You become a faceless cell
Yet underneath, the unspoken, 
The unmeasurable
A civil war scurries on
Small-scale, skirmishes and battles

Banal Prism 

Seems like a juxtapose
The blurred visions
The grey glaring through your nose