Thursday, September 20, 2007

Reading Notes: Kundara: The Curtain (1)

In the nineteenth century, Milan Kundera writes, in the The Consciousness of Continuity, "Something essential in man's existence changed... man began to understand that he was not going to die in the same world he had been born into."

Is there any more absolute line of demarcation, whether we speak of individuals, religions, political parties or social classes? ... than the abyss between those who accept that they will not die in the same world into which they were born, and those who resist unto death, no matter the toll, this inescapable reality?

Make no mistake. This has nothing to do with the late nineteenth century notion of "progress," a reiteration of an essentially 18th C. mechanistic understanding--where the particulars change and evolve, but the governing laws are unaltered. As though there were a human constant, moving through an every changing environment.

No... "World" here, is that far more complex amalgam... the humanly habitable World by which we define ourselves--our being. If it is not what is was, we are not what we were.

Is this not the very subject of the arts?

Milan Kundera. The Curtain, An Essay in Seven Parts. Translated from the French by Linda Asher. HarperCollinPublishers

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