“The Unbearable Lightness Of Being”


“The Unbearable Lightness Of Being” by Milan Kundera

This novel is a short and fun read with sexual & imaginative story lines, intriguing & eccentric characters, and is seasoned with thought-provoking ideas on life.  The timing of reading this book was perfect.  Quite a few of my favorite quotes mirrored the moment in which I was reading them; t’was beautiful.  Here are tons of great quotes for you:

“Looking out over the courtyard at the dirty walls, he realized he had no idea whether it was hysteria or love.”

“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.  […]  There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no bases for comparison.  We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold.”

“Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous.  Metaphors are not to be trifled with.  A single metaphor can give birth to love.”

“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.”

“But as he ran through the previous few hours in his mind, he began to sense an aura of hitherto unknown happiness emanating from them.”

“Tomas came to this conclusion:  Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite.  Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).”

“On Saturday and Sunday, he felt the sweet lightness of being rise up to him out of the depths of the future.”

“But when we ignore the body, we are more easily victimized by it.”

“This is why she insisted her daughter remain with her in the world of immodesty, where youth and beauty mean nothing, where the world is nothing but a vast concentration camp of bodies, one like the next, with souls invisible.”

“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 ground at the bottom of a cup.”

“(The crew of her soul rushed up to the deck of her body.)”

“Her life was split.  Both day and night were competing for her.”

“While people are fairly young and the musical composition of their lives is still in the opening bars, they can go about writing it together and exchange motifs […], but if they meet when they are older, like Franz and Sabina, their musical compositions are more or less complete, and every motif, every object, every word means something different to each of them.”

“He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends.”

“[…], when music was like a rose blooming on a boundless snow-covered plain of silence.”

“That darkness was pure, perfect, thoughtless, visionless; that darkness was without end, without borders; that darkness was the infinite we each carry within us.  (Yes, if you’re looking for infinity, just close your eyes!)”

“Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness.  What fell to her lot was not the burden but the unbearable lightness of being.”

“But what a monstrous soul it would have to be if it reflected that body, that rack of four pouches.”

“([…]  Indeed, the only truly serious questions are ones that even a child can formulate.  Only the most naive of questions are the 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.)”

“What is flirtation?  One might say that it is behavior leading another to believe that sexual intimacy is possible, while preventing that possibility from becoming a certainty. In other words, flirting is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee.”

“Nothing could be more miserable than her naked body perched on the enlarged end of a sewer pipe.”

“She longed to see it again and again in that implausibly proximity to an alien penis.”

“People usually escape from their troubles into the future; they draw an imaginary line across the path of time, a line beyond which their current troubles will cease to exist.”

“But isn’t it true that an author can write only about himself.”

“Holding his hand, she would forget the chasm (the chasm of daylight) that divided them.”

“He suddenly recalled the famous myth from Plato’s Symposium: People were hermaphrodites until God split them in two, and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another.  Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.”

“[…] claiming that Jesus ‘ate and drank, but did not defecate.'”

“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.”

“And 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.”

“There was a pale moon in the sky, a forgotten lamp in the room of the dead.”

“The light of horror thus lost its harshness, and the world was bathed in a gentle, bluish light that actually beautified it.”

“So it was gratitude that decided the issue, most likely.  Human decisions are terribly simple.”

Posted on Saturday, June 16th, 2012 at 1:18 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.