I ran into this book by total coincidence – around 5/6 months ago i followed @pazuzu_hsp , in her bio she had “Einmal ist keinmal” – intrigued I googled and figured that this is a book by Milan Kundera – then I read the wiki article and decided to add it to the “to read” list.
Time went by and I missed that feeling of lightness in my life – so I just picked up the book (actually double clicked on my kindle) and started reading.
I loved the book – so many true points and so many things to think about and since I read it on Kindle, i quoted from time to time some of the paragraphs.
Those are some of the quotes, I probably missed the best ones – cuz well i was taken by the book most of the time.
Enjoy the tease and hope you read the book as well.
Einmal ist keinmal. What happens but once might as well not have happened at all
“Es muss sein!”
A long time ago, man would listen in amazement to the sound of regular beats in his chest, never suspecting what they were. He was unable to identify himself with so alien and unfa¬miliar an object as the body. The body was a cage, and inside that cage was something which looked, listened, feared, thought, and marveled; that something, that remainder left over after the body had been accounted for, was the soul. Today, of course, the body is no longer unfamiliar: we know that the beating in our chest is the heart and that the nose is the nozzle of a hose sticking out of the body to take oxygen to the lungs. The face is nothing but an instrument panel regis¬tering all the body mechanisms: digestion, sight, hearing, respi¬ration, thought. Ever since man has learned to give each part of the body a name, the body has given him less trouble. He has also learned that the soul is nothing more than the gray matter of the brain in action. The old duality of body and soul has become shrouded in scientific terminology, and we can laugh at it as merely an obsolete prejudice. But just make someone who has fallen in love listen to his stomach rumble, and the unity of body and soul, that lyrical illusion of the age of science, instantly fades away
chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us. We read its message much as gypsies read the images made by coffee
sensuality is the total mobilization of the senses – an individual observes his partner intently, straining to catch every sound (then he goes on to say that the screaming during sex is an assault on that )
what seemed to have escaped Freud in his theory of dreams. Dreaming is not merely an act of communication (or coded communication, if you like); it is also an aesthetic activ¬ity, a game of the imagination, a game that is a value in itself. Our dreams prove that to imagine—to dream about things that have not happened—is among mankind’s deepest needs.
What is vertigo? Fear of falling? Then why do we feel it even when the observation tower comes 60 equipped with a sturdy handrail? No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves
Being in a foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the net afforded a person by the country where he has his family, colleagues, and friends, and where he can easily say what he has to say in a language he has known from childhood
But when the strong were too weak to hurt the weak, the weak had to be strong enough to leave
While people are fairly young and the musical composition of their lives is still in its opening bars, they can go about writing it together and exchange motifs (the way Tomas and Sabina exchanged the motif of the bowler hat), but if they meet when they are older, like Franz and Sabina, their musical com-positions are more or less complete, and every motif, every object, every word means something different to each of them
“It’s a vicious circle,” Sabina said. “People are going deaf because music is played louder and louder. But because they’re going deaf, it has to be played louder still.
Sebastian Bach, when music was like a rose blooming on a boundless snowcovered plain of silence
the transformation of music into noise was a planetary process by which mankind was entering the historical phase of total ugliness
that darkness was the infinite we each carry within us. (Yes, if you’re looking for infinity, just close your eyes!)
the larger a man grows in his own inner darkness, the more his outer form diminishes. A man with closed eyes is a wreck of a man
In the safety of emigration, they all naturally came out in favor of fighting. Sabina said: “Then why don’t you go back and fight?
People in Italy or France have it easy. When their parents force them to go to church, they get back at them by joining the Party
behind Communism, Fascism, behind all occupations and invasions lurks a more basic, pervasive evil and that the image of that evil was a parade of people marching by with raised fists and shout¬ing identical syllables in unison
Culture is perishing in overproduction, in an avalanche of words, in the madness of quantity.
the dead are as innocent as children. No matter how brutal life becomes, peace always reigns in the cemetery
The old church in Amsterdam there are houses running along one side of the street, and behind the large ground-floor shop-front windows all the whores have little rooms and plushly pillowed armchairs in which they sit up close to the glass wearing bras and panties. They look like big bored cats. On the other side of the street is a gigantic Gothic cathedral dating from the fourteenth century. Between the whores’ world and God’s world, like a river dividing two empires, stretches an intense smell of urine
there was something that bound the bankers to beggars: a hatred of beauty.
The only people in the pews were old men and old women, because they did not fear the regime. They feared only death
There are things that can be accomplished only by violence. Physical love is unthinkable without violence
A man who loses his privacy loses everything. And a man who gives it up of his own free will is a monster
Once her love had been publicized, it would gain weight, become a burden.
The eyes, as the saying goes, are windows to the soul. Franz’s body, which thrashed about on top of hers with closed eyes, was therefore a body without a soul. It was like a newborn animal, still blind and whimpering for the drug
A concentration camp is a world in which people live crammed together con¬stantly, night and day. Brutality and violence are merely sec¬ondary (and not in the least indispensable) characteristics. A concentration camp is the complete obliteration of privacy
the only truly serious ques¬tions are ones that even a child can formulate. Only the most naive of questions are truly serious
They are the questions with no answers. A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.) Tereza
we are happily ignorant of the invisible
Communist regimes of Central Europe are exclusively the work of criminals is overlooking a basic truth: the criminal regimes were made not by criminals but by enthusiasts convinced they had discovered the only road to paradise. They defended that road so valiantly that they were forced to execute many people. Later it became clear that there was no paradise, that the enthusiasts were therefore murderers
oh how defenseless we are in the face of flattery
People derived too much pleasure from seeing their fellow man morally humiliated to spoil that pleasure by hearing out an explanation
God, it may be assumed, took murder into account; He did not take surgery into account. He never sus¬pected that someone would dare to stick his hand into the mechanism He had invented, wrapped carefully in skin, and sealed away from human eyes
Only in sexuality does the millionth part dissimilarity be¬come precious, because, not accessible in public, it must be conquered
metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor
“Which doesn’t mean we don’t go after them,” the editor continued, “or that we’re too nice to spare them the embarrass¬ment.” He laughed. “You should hear the excuses they give. They’re fantastic!
Hu¬man life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various deci¬sions.
Shit is a more onerous theological problem than is evil
When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to ob¬ject
In the realm of kitsch, the dictatorship of the heart reigns supreme
The brotherhood of man on earth will be possible only on a base of kitsch And no one knows this better than politicians
She would unhesitatingly prefer life in a real Communist regime with all its persecution and meat queues. Life in the real Communist world was still livable. In the world of the Communist ideal made real, in that world of grinning idiots, she would have nothing to say, she would die of horror within a week
What makes a leftist a leftist is not this or that theory but his ability to integrate any theory into the kitsch called the Grand March
Several days later he was in a large jet taking off from Paris with twenty doctors and about fifty intellectuals (professors, writers, diplomats, singers, actors, and mayors) as well as four hundred reporters and photographers
people without fear still exist
That, too, was playacting. But he had no other possibility. His choice was not between playacting and action. His choice was between play¬acting and no action at all. There are situations in which people are condemned to playact. Their struggle with mute power (the mute power across the river, a police transmogrified into mute microphones in the wall) is the struggle of a theater com¬pany that has attacked an army
Before we are forgotten, we will be turned into kitsch
fat fiftyyear-olds pretending they were fourteen. There was nothing more touching than cows at play
Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short. Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of deliver¬ing ourselves up to him demand-free and asking for nothing but his company
therein lies the whole of man’s plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition
human decisions are terribly simple
Sometimes you make up your mind about something without knowing why, and your decision persists by the power of inertia.
Hope you enjoyed the quotes – share your favorites/feedback if you read the book too.