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milan kundera Quotes

Milan Kundera Quotes

Birth Date: 1929-04-01 (Monday, April 1st, 1929)



    • Do you realize that people don't know how to read Kafka simply because they want to decipher him? Instead of letting themselves be carried away by his unequaled imagination, they look for allegories - and come up with nothing but cliches: life is absurd (or it is not absurd), God is beyond reach (or within reach), etc. You can understand nothing about art, particularly modern art, if you do not understand that imagination is a value in itself.
    • A novel that does not uncover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel's only morality.
    • The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists' discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish.
    • Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.
    • Optimism is the opium of the people.
    • Nothing is more repugnant to me than brotherly feelings grounded in the common baseness people see in one another.
    • No great movement designed to change the world can bear to be laughed at or belittled. Mockery is a rust that corrodes all it touches.
    • The bloody massacre in Bangladesh quickly covered over the memory of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Allende drowned out the groans of Bangladesh, the war in the Sinai Desert made people forget Allende, the Cambodian massacre made people forget Sinai, and so on and so forth until ultimately everyone lets everything be forgotten. In times when history still moved slowly, events were few and far between and easily committed to memory. They formed a commonly accepted backdrop for thrilling scenes of adventure in private life. Nowadays, history moves at a brisk clip. A historical event, though soon forgotten, sparkles the morning after with the dew of novelty. No longer a backdrop, it is now the adventure itself, an adventure enacted before the backdrop of the commonly accepted banality of private life.
    • People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It's not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past. They are fighting for access to the laboratories where photographs are retouched and biographies and histories rewritten.
    • The proliferation of mass graphomania among politicians, cab drivers, women on the delivery table, mistresses, murderers, criminals, prostitutes, police chiefs, doctors, and patients proves to me that every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself and that all mankind has every right to rush out into the streets with a cry of 'We are all writers!' The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding.
    • In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia.
    • In the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body.
    • And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?
    • Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.
    • To love someone out of compassion means not really to love.
    • A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person.
    • He had spent seven years of his life with Tereza, and now he realised that those years were more attractive in retrospect than they were when he was living them.
    • For there is nothing heavier than compassion. 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.
    • Necessity, weight, and value are three concepts inextricably bound: only necessity is heavy, and only what is heavy has value.
    • When we ignore the body, we are more easily victimized by it.
    • But is not an event in fact more significant and noteworthy the greater the number of fortuities necessary to bring it about?
    • Chance and chance alone has a message for us... Only chance can speak to us.
    • Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of great distress..
    • If a love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it like birds to Francis of Assisi's shoulders.
    • It was the call of all those fortuities... which gave her the courage to leave home and change her fate.
    • It is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.
    • For the first few seconds, she was afraid he would throw her out because of the crude noises she was making, but then he put his arms around her. She was grateful to him for ignoring her rumbles, and she kissed him passionately, her eyes misting.
    • Anyone whose goal is 'something higher' must expect some day to suffer vertigo.
    • No, vertigo is somethng other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is thedesire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
    • Dreaming is not merely an act of communication; it is also an aesthetic activity, a game of the imagination, a game that is a value in itself.
    • But when the strong were too weak to hurt the weak, the weak had to be strong enough to leave.
    • Physical love is unthinkable without violence.
    • 'Why don't you ever use your strength on me?' she said. 'Because love means renouncing strength,' said Franz softly.-
    • 'Love is a battle,' said Marie-Claude, still smiling. 'And I plan to go on fighting. To the end.'
    • The moment love is born: the woman cannot resist the voice calling forth her terrified soul; the man cannot resist the woman whose soul thus responds to his voice.
    • What is unique about the 'I' hides itself exactly in what is unimaginable about a person. All we are able to imagine is what makes everyone like everyone else, what people have in common. The individual 'I' is what differs from the common stock, that is, what cannot be guessed at or calculated, what must be unveiled, uncovered, conquered.
    • The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful.
    • Love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.
    • Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.
    • Love is our freedom.
    • I can't shake off the idea that after death you keep being alive. That to be dead is to live an endless nightmare.
    • This is the real and the only reason for friendship: to provide a mirror so the other person can contemplate his image from the past, which, without the eternal blah-blah of memories between pals, would long ago have disappeared.
    • It is always that way: between the moment he meets her again and the moment he recognizes her for the woman he loves, he has some distance to go.
    • How could she feel nostalgia when he was right in front of her? How can you suffer from the absence of a person who is present?
    • You can suffer nostalgia in the presence of the beloved if you glimpse a future where the beloved is no more.
    • The eye... the point where a person's identity is concentrated.
    • You can't measure the mutual affection of two human beings by the number of words they exchange.
    • Today we're all alike, all of us bound together by our shared apathy toward work. That very apathy has become a passion. The one great collective passion of our time.
    • Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that's very beautiful. But what would they nourish their intimate talk with? However contemptible the world may be, they still need it to be able to talk together.
    • No love can survive muteness.
    • Pain doesn't listen to reason, it has it's own reason, which is not reasonable.
    • He felt as if she no longer existed for him, had gone off somewhere, into some other life where, if he should meet her, he would no longer recognize her.
    • As you live out your desolation, you can be either unhappy or happy. Having that choice is what constitutes your freedom.
    • Since the insignificance of all things is our lot, we should not bear it as an afflication but learn to enjoy it.
    • She said: 'I get scared when my eye blinks. Scared that during that second when my gaze is switched off, a snake or a rat or another man could slip into your place.'
    • milan kundera

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