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Mpls, MN, United States

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Incidents & Accidents

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"In my head, there's a Greyhound station..."

Almost exactly five years ago, I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being for the first time. I'm not sure why, precisely; I had probably seen it on a list, for which I have a hereditary predilection, and happened to see a copy at the library. I read it in a single afternoon, Thanksgiving 2001, with the cat occasionally lounging on or beside me. I thought it amazing at the time (it starts, "The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!"), but although it continued to haunt my thoughts, I somehow never re-read it.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a used copy, along with Oscar Wilde's Salome, for one of the monster papers plaguing the end of my semester, and tonight, in a simultaneous attempt to work on and avoid said paper, began it again. [1] So far, I still think it's amazing.

Here is the third chapter of the second book:

"Tereza tried to see herself through her body. That is why, from girlhood on, she would stand before the mirror so often. And because she was afraid her mother would catch her at it, every peek into the mirror had a twinge of secret vice.

"It was not vanity that drew her to the mirror; it was amazement at seeing her own "I." She forgot she was looking at the instrument panel of her body mechanisms; she thought she saw her soul shining through the features of her face. She forgot that the nose was merely the nozzle of a hose that took oxygen to the lungs; she saw it as the true expression of her nature.

"Staring at herself for long stretches of time, she was occasionally upset at the sight of her mother's features in her face. She would stare all the more doggedly at her image in an attempt to wish them away and keep only what was hers alone. Each time she succeeded was a time of intoxication: her soul would rise to the surface of her body like a crew charging up from the bowels of a ship, spreading out over the deck, waving at the sky and singing in jubilation." (41)

[1] Blogging is of course, pure avoidance.


Angela said...

i am so happy that you wrote about this book. every time i go into a bookstore it draws me, but i have yet to buy it and read it. maybe my time has not yet come. unfortunately, i have many books that i've been drawn to, but have not read yet.

and this comment, also avoidance. i have a vespers talk to write, and it scares me.

Cerise said...

Next time you're in Minneapolis, you can borrow my copy! Good luck with that vespers talk...