I wanted to share some quotes from the book I'm currently reading, Immortality by Milan Kundera. I was going to attempt to write a little after each one to explain why I picked it out; but honestly, trying to write anything after quoting Milan Kundera just feels like a waste of words. He's such an incredible writer and I love every one of his books that I've read so far. His writing connects with me in such a deep way, and I wanted to share just a few of my favourite passages from this book. If you haven't read some Kundera yet, you need to do so. Immediately.
She said to herself: when once the onslaught of ugliness became completely unbearable, she would go to a florist and buy a forget-me-not, a slender stalk with miniature blue flowers. She would go out into the street holding the flower before her eyes, staring at it tenaciously so as to see only that single beautiful blue point, to see it as the last thing she wanted to preserve for herself from a world she had ceased to love.
A person is nothing but his image. Philosophers can tell us that it doesn't matter what the world thinks of us, that nothing matters but what we really are. But philosophers don't understand anything. As long as we live with other people, we are only what other people consider us to be [...] our self is a mere illusion, ungraspable, indescribably, misty, while the only reality, al too easily graspable and describable, is our image in the eyes of others.
I think, therefore I am is the statement of an intellectual who underrates toothache. I feel, therefore I am is a truth much more universally valid, and it applies to everything that's alive. My self does not differ substanitally from yours in terms of its thought. Many people, few ideas: we all think more of less the same, and we exchange, borrow, steal thoughts from one another. However, when someone steps on my foot, only I feel the pain. The basis of the self is not thought but suffering, which is the most fundamental of all feelings [...] in intense suffering the world disappears and each of us is alone with his self.
The word 'heart' is seldom used in a literal anatomic sense ('my heart pounded'), more often it is used as a synecdoche designating the breast ('I would like to press you to my heart'), but in the vast majority of cases it means the same as the word 'soul': the feeling self.
It is so difficult to be indifferent to one's image. Such indifference is beyond human strength. One becomes capable of it only after death [...] just shortly before I died I declared that I felt such creative power within me, it was impossible for it to disappear without a trace. And of course I believed that I would live in the image I left behind me. Yes, I was just like you. Even after death it was hard for me to accept the idea that I no longer existed. You know, it's really very peculiar. To be mortal is the most basic human experience, and yet man has never been able to accept it, grasp it, and behave accordingly. Man doesn't know how to be mortal.