Sunday, January 24, 2016

Quotes from To kill a mockingbird

Quotes to my liking in To Kill A Mockingbird and, yes, I only got to this book at this age because I thought I was to see of film of the same title. 8-X

  1. it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name.
  2. I wanted you to see something about her—I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.
  3. With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable. I stayed miserable for two days.
  4. We were surprised one morning to see a cartoon in the Montgomery Advertiser above the caption, “Maycomb’s Finch.” It showed Atticus barefooted and in short pants, chained to a desk: he was diligently writing on a slate while some frivolouslooking girls yelled, “Yoo-hoo!” at him.
  5. “That’s a compliment,” explained Jem. “He spends his time doin‘ things that wouldn’t get done if nobody did ’em.”
  6. puttin‘ on airs to beat Moses.”
  7. I said I would like it very much, which was a lie, but one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can’t do anything about them.
  8. Aunt Alexandra fitted into the world of Maycomb like a hand into a glove, but never into the world of Jem and me.
  9. I understood, pondered a while, and concluded that the only way I could retire with a shred of dignity was to go to the bathroom, where I stayed long enough to make them think I had to go.
  10. “he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us.”
  11. As the county went by us, Jem gave Dill the histories ....
  12. a view indicating a people determined to preserve every physical scrap of the past.
  13. I won’t live to see the law changed, and if you live to see it you’ll be an old man.
  14. “You couldn’t, but they could and did. The older you grow the more of it you’ll see.
  15. Atticus said he didn’t see how anything else could happen, that things had a way of settling down, and after enough time passed people would forget that Tom Robinson’s existence was ever brought to their attention.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Valentine's Day

My Valentine's Day excursion has some kind of theme song of its own ....

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being By Milan Kundera

I am certain that I watched the film "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" based on the book of the same title when it came out but I seriously doubt that I finished reading the book for one good reason.

My impression of this master piece has been an unbearably miserable one for all these years. Yet, I found myself laughing my head off unterwegs zur finishing this dark comedy, for the first time or not.

It was as if the theme song for the unbearable suddenly quantum leaped from the heavy solemnness of The One You Love

to the lightness of a Diva's Lament.

Both are songs I love except they are definitely on the opposite extremes of the light-heavy continuum.

Is it an artifact of the book-to-film adaptation process or the eyes of the beholder?


Following are some quotes from the book though you should read it first in order to get the context info ....


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 basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, sketch is not quite the word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture.

The tons of steel of the Russian tanks were nothing compared with it. 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.

Compassion knew it was being presumptuous, yet it quietly stood its ground

Unlike Parmenides, Beethoven apparently viewed weight as something positive. Since the German word schwer means both difficult and heavy, Beethoven's difficult resolution may also be construed as a heavy or weighty resolution. The weighty resolution is at one with the voice of Fate ( Es muss sein! ); necessity, weight, and value are three concepts inextricably bound: only necessity is heavy, and only what is heavy has value .... This is a conviction born of Beethoven's music, and although we cannot ignore the possibility (or even probability) that it owes its origins more to Beethoven's commentators than to Beethoven himself,

We all reject out of hand the idea that the love of our life may be something light or weightless; we presume our love is what must be, that without it our life would no longer be the same; we feel that Beethoven himself, gloomy and awe-inspiring, is playing the Es muss sein! to our own great love.

It would be senseless for the author to try to convince the reader that his characters once actually lived. They were not born of a mother's womb; they were born of a stimulating phrase or two or from a basic situation. Tomas was born of the saying Einma! ist keinmal. Tereza was born of the rumbling of a stomach.

The face is nothing but an instrument panel registering all the body mechanisms: digestion, sight, hearing, respiration, thought.

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 grounds at the bottom of a cup.

Rounding the counter with Tomas's cognac, she tried to read chance's message: How was it possible that at the very moment she was taking an order of cognac to a stranger she found attractive, at that very moment she heard Beethoven? (The power of the synchronicity over the weightless delusions.)

A young woman forced to keep drunks supplied with beer and siblings with clean underwear—instead of being allowed to pursue something higher —stores up great reserves of vitality, a vitality never dreamed of by university students yawning over their books.

You mean you were really jealous? she asked him ten times or more, incredulously, as though someone had just informed her she had been awarded a Nobel Prize.

Before long, unfortunately, she began to be jealous herself, and Tomas saw her jealousy not as a Nobel Prize, but as a burden, a burden he would be saddled with until not long before his death.

True, he would rather have slept by himself, but the marriage bed is still the symbol of the marriage bond, and symbols, as we know, are inviolable.

although they had a clear understanding of the logical meaning of the words they exchanged, they failed to hear the semantic susurrus of the river flowing through them.

If I were to make a record of all Sabina and Franz's conversations, I could compile a long lexicon of their misunderstandings. Let us be content, instead, with a short dictionary.

Being a woman is a fate Sabina did not choose. What we have not chosen we cannot consider either our merit or our failure.

And again [Sabrina] felt a longing to betray: betray her own betrayal.

At the time, she had thought that only in the Communist world could such musical barbarism reign supreme. Abroad, she discovered that the transformation of music into noise was a planetary process by which mankind was entering the historical phase of total ugliness. The total ugliness to come had made itself felt first as omnipresent acoustical ugliness: cars, motorcycles, electric guitars, drills, loudspeakers, sirens. The omnipresence of visual ugliness would soon follow.

was unbounded music, absolute sound, a pleasant and happy all-encompassing, overpowering, window-rattling din to engulf, once and for all, the pain, the futility, the vanity of words. Music was the negation of sentences, music was the anti-word!

a passion for extremism, in art and in politics, is a veiled longing for death.

[For Franz] darkness was the infinite we each carry within us. (Yes, if you're looking for infinity, just close your eyes!)

But for [Sabrina], darkness did not mean infinity; for her, it meant a disagreement with what she saw, the negation of what was seen, the refusal to see.

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?

When the distinguished emigre heard from the lips of a painter whose pictures he had never seen that he resembled Communist President Novotny, he turned scarlet, then white, then scarlet again, then white once more; he tried to say something, did not succeed, and fell silent.

Sabina said, Unintentional beauty ... 'beauty by mistake.' Before beauty disappears entirely from the earth, it will go on existing for a while by mistake. 'Beauty by mistake'—the final phase in the history of beauty.

The pinnacle of the dramatic possibilities available to my life!

Sheets of paper covered with words pile up in archives sadder than cemeteries, because no one ever visits them, not even on All Souls' Day.

in an avalanche of words,

he resigned himself with a sigh to a sea of words with no weight and no resemblance to life. (So I feel burying in the avalanche of my weightless shit. lol)

Superimposing the painful drama of her country on her person, he found her even more beautiful. The trouble was that Sabina had no love for that drama. The words prison, persecution ... were ugly, without the slightest trace of romance. The only word that evoked in her a sweet, nostalgic memory of her homeland was the word cemetery.

When we want to give expression to a dramatic situation in our lives, we tend to use metaphors of heaviness. We say that something has become a great burden to us. We either bear the burden or fail and go down with it, we struggle with it, win or lose. And Sabina—what had come over her? Nothing. She had left a man because she felt like leaving him .... 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.

People use filthy language all day long,  but when they turn on the radio and hear a well-known personality, someone they respect, saying fuck in every sentence, they feel somehow let down.

Tomas turned off the radio and said, Every country has its secret police. But a secret police that broadcasts its tapes over the radio—there's something that could happen only in Prague, something absolutely without precedent! (How opportune! Seconds ago I just asked my mom whether I am under governmental watch and taped and etc. And as always I was given a no for an answer.)

They were ready to fight as obstinately against a foreign army as against an umbrella that refused to move out of their way.

that perverse need one has to expose one's ruins, one's ugliness, to parade one's misery, to uncover the stump of one's amputated arm and force the whole world to look at it. (Some definitely might say this about my writing.)

When a private talk over a bottle of wine is broadcast on the radio, what can it mean but that the world is turning into a concentration camp?

[for Tereza, a] concentration camp is a world in which people live crammed together constantly, night and day. Brutality and violence are merely secondary (and not in the least indispensable) characteristics. A concentration camp is the complete obliteration of privacy .... Almost from childhood, she knew that a concentration camp was nothing exceptional or startling but something very basic, a given into which we are born and from which we can escape only with the greatest of efforts. (If a concentration camp is so defined, complete obliteration of privacy, there is no escape from mine since it's weightless, portable, and undetacheable like my shadow.)

Then what was the relationship between Tereza and her body? Had her body the right to call itself Tereza? And if not, then what did the name refer to? Merely something incorporeal, intangible? (Am I the slave of my body and mind and who am I?)

She then went to say good-bye to the ambassador, who had night duty. (It reminds me of this cleaning lady I once knew who was a journalist from her native land.)

She knew that she had become a burden to him: she took things too seriously, turning everything into a tragedy, and failed to grasp the lightness and amusing insignificance of physical love. How she wished she could learn lightness! She yearned for someone to help her out of her anachronistic shell.

Toilets in modern water closets rise up from the floor like white water lilies. The architect does all he can to make the body forget how paltry it is, and to make man ignore what happens to his intestinal wastes after the water from the tank flushes them down the drain. Even though the sewer pipelines reach far into our houses with their tentacles, they are carefully hidden from view, and we are happily ignorant of the invisible Venice of shit underlying our bathrooms, bedrooms, dance halls, and parliaments.
She was sitting there on the toilet, and her sudden desire to void her bowels was in fact a desire to go to the extreme of humiliation, to become only and utterly a body, the body her mother used to say was good for nothing but digesting and excreting. And as she voided her bowels, Tereza was overcome by a feeling of infinite grief and loneliness. Nothing could be more miserable than her naked body perched on the enlarged end of a sewer pipe. (Oh ... shit! Wonder whether it might make her feel better: at least not the ineffable constipation blocking the avalanche of diarrhea.)

Their love was an oddly asymmetrical construction: it was supported by the absolute certainty of her fidelity like a gigantic edifice supported by a single column.

She was thinking about how all things and people seemed to go about in disguise. An old Czech town was covered with Russian names. Czechs taking pictures of the invasion had unconsciously worked for the secret police. The man who sent her to die had worn a mask of Tomas's face over his own. The spy played the part of an engineer, and the engineer tried to play the part of the man from Petrin. The emblem of the book in his flat proved a sham designed to lead her astray. (And messages hiding in plain sight everywhere.)

The river flowed from century to century, and human affairs play themselves out on its banks. Play themselves out to be forgotten the next day, while the river flows on.

Reka tece od veku do veku a lidské príbehy se dejí na brehu. Dejí se, aby byly
zítra zapomenuty a reka tekla dál.

Anyone who thinks that the 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.

In the end, the dispute narrowed down to a single question: Did they really not know or were they merely making believe?

But, he said to himself, whether they knew or didn't know is not the main issue; the main issue is whether a man is innocent because he didn't know.

But now that we all know the accusations to have been absurd and the executed to have been innocent, how can that selfsame public prosecutor defend his purity of heart by beating himself on the chest and proclaiming, My conscience is clear! I didn't know! I was a believer! Isn't his I didn't know! I was a believer! at the very root of his irreparable guilt?

You know what's at stake, said the chief surgeon .... He knew, all right. There were two things in the balance: his honor (which consisted in his refusing to retract what he had said) and what he had come to call the meaning of his life (his work in medicine and research).

And suddenly Tomas grasped a strange fact:  everyone was smiling at him,  everyone wanted him to write the retraction; it would make everyone happy! The people with the first type of reaction would be happy because by inflating cowardice, he would make their actions seem commonplace and thereby give them back their lost honor. The people with the second type of reaction, who had come  to consider their honor a special privilege never to be yielded, nurtured a secret love for the cowards, for without them their courage would soon erode into a trivial, monotonous grind admired by no one. (Should I hospitalize myself or not?)

spread through nervous Prague with the uncanny speed of a bush telegraph (Good way to describe the mechanism in which my each and every move is broadcast.)

How defenseless we are in the face of flattery! Tomas was unable to prevent himself from taking seriously what the Ministry official said .... But it was not out of mere vanity. More  important was Tomas's  lack of experience. When you sit face to face  with someone who is pleasant,  respectful, and polite, you have a hard time reminding yourself that nothing he says is true, that nothing is sincere. Maintaining nonbelief (constantly, systematically, without the slightest vacillation) requires a tremendous effort  and the proper training—in  other words, frequent police interrogations. Tomas lacked that training. (And I lacked the training in facing my hallucinations, delusions, etc and I am still an apprentice.)

That's how everyone understood it, said the man from the Ministry, his voice growing sadder and sadder.

If you'd read the complete version, the way I wrote it originally, you wouldn't have read that into it. The published version was slightly cut.

This time Tomas had no trouble responding, because he had told the absolute truth. It's not logical, but that's how it was.

People derived too much pleasure from seeing their fellow man morally humiliated to spoil that pleasure by hearing out an explanation.

Humiliating public statements are associated exclusively with the signatories' rise, not fall. (That was why this two-bit-nothing got herself institutionalized knowing only I had lost my ability to concentrate. There wouldn't be any purpose.)

Tomas suddenly realized that he was not at all sure he had made the proper choice, but he felt bound to it by then by an unspoken vow of fidelity, so he stood fast. And that is how he became a window washer. (That was how I got myself locked up behind the gated doors at the onset.)

Does that mean his life lacked any Es muss sein!, any overriding necessity? In my opinion, it did have one ... it was his profession. He had come to medicine not by coincidence or calculation but by a deep inner desire.

A certain Dembscher owed Beethoven fifty florins, and when the composer, who was chronically short of funds, reminded him of the debt, Dembscher heaved a mournful sigh and said, Muss es sein? ... Es muss sein, es muss  sein, ja, ja, ja, ja!  (It must be, it must be, yes, yes, yes, yes!), and the fourth voice chimes in with Heraus mit dem Beutel! (Out with the purse!) ..... In Kant's language, even Good morning, suitably pronounced, can take the shape of a metaphysical thesis. German is a language of heavy words. Es muss sein! was no longer a joke; it had become der schwer gefasste Entschluss (the difficult or weighty resolution). (Is this real? 8-O lol)

That, of course, was an external Es muss sein! reserved for him by social convention, whereas the Es muss sein! of his love for medicine was internal. So much the worse for him. Internal imperatives are all the more  powerful and therefore all the more of an inducement to revolt.

He had more to say, but suddenly he remembered that the place might be bugged. He had not the slightest ambition to be quoted by historians of centuries to come. He was simply afraid of being quoted by the police.

But isn't it true that an author can write only about himself? Staring impotently across  a courtyard, at a loss for what to do; hearing the pertinacious rumbling of one's own stomach during a moment of love; betraying, yet lacking the will to abandon the glamorous path of betrayal; raising one's fist with the crowds in the Grand March; displaying one's wit before hidden microphones—I have known all these situations, I have experienced them myself, yet none of them has given rise to the person my curriculum vitae and I represent.

It was manna from heaven, the perfect start and justification for a new wave of persecution. (Every move, word, and thought it is.)

And again he thought the thought we already know: Human 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 decisions.

Einmal ist keinmal. What happens but once might as well not have happened at all. The history of the Czechs will not be repeated, nor will the history of Europe. The history of the Czechs and of Europe is a pair of sketches from the pen of mankind's fateful inexperience. History is as light as individual human life, unbearably light, light as a feather, as dust swirling into the air, as whatever will no longer exist tomorrow. (So is the path I traversed and mystory.)

That man acted as though history were a finished picture rather than a sketch. He acted as though everything he did were to be repeated endlessly, to return eternally, without the slightest doubt about his actions. He was convinced he was right, and for him that was a sign not of narrowmindedness but of virtue. Yes, that man lived in a history different from Tomas's: a history that was not (or did not realize it was) a sketch.

Perhaps he hoped his words would ring so outrageously false that they would wake Hrubin from the dead. But the world was too ugly, and no one decided to rise up out of the grave.

It's perfectly normal for our paths not to cross. There's nothing to get upset about!

And we'd be getting back to nature. Nature is the same as it always was.

I didn't want to tell you, but night after night I've had to breathe in the groin of some mistress of yours.

Was he [Yakov Stalin], who bore on his shoulders a drama of the highest order (as fallen angel and Son of God), to undergo judgment not for something sublime (in the realm of God and the angels) but for shit? Were the very highest of drama and the very lowest so vertiginously close?

If rejection and privilege are one and the same, if there is no difference between the sublime and the paltry, if the Son of God can undergo judgment for shit, then human existence loses its dimensions and becomes unbearably light.

Shit is a more onerous theological problem than is evil. Since God gave man freedom, we can, if need be, accept the idea that He is not responsible for man's crimes. The responsibility for shit, however, rests entirely with Him, the Creator of man.

Hovno je obtížnejší teologický problém než zlo. Buh dal cloveku svobodu a mužeme tedy konec koncu pripustit, že není odpoveden za lidské zlociny. Odpovednost za hovno nese však plne jen ten, kdo cloveka stvoril.

Erigena's argument holds the key to a theological justification (in other words, a theodicy) of shit. As long as  man was allowed to remain in Paradise, either (like Valentinus' Jesus) he did not defecate at all, or (as would seem more likely) he did not look upon shit as something repellent. Not until after God expelled man from Paradise did He make him feel disgust.

exactly how Sabina had explained the meaning of her paintings to Tereza: on the surface, an intelligible lie; underneath, the unintelligible truth showing through. (Sounds like conscious/unconscious and feels like delusions.)

she even managed to hide the fact that she was Czech. It was all merely a desperate attempt to escape the kitsch that people wanted to make of her life.

windows shining out into the dying day. (What're the stories within?)

For none among us is superman enough to escape kitsch completely. No matter how we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.

Kitsch has its source in the categorical agreement with being.

It is always nice to dream that we are part of a jubilant throng marching through the centuries, and Franz never quite forgot the dream.

The identity of kitsch comes not from a political strategy but from images, metaphors, and vocabulary.

its pace grows faster and faster, until finally the Grand March is a procession of rushing, galloping people and the platform is shrinking and shrinking until one day it will be reduced to a mere dimension-less dot.

the editor in Prague who organized the petition for the amnesty of political prisoners. He knew perfectly well that his petition would not help the prisoners. His true goal was not to free the prisoners; it was to show that 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
playacting and no action at all.

That sudden desire of Franz's reminds us of  something; yes, it reminds us of Stalin's son, who ran to electrocute himself on the barbed wire when he could no longer stand to watch the poles of human existence come so close to each other as to touch, when there was no longer any difference between sublime and squalid, angel and fly. God and shit.

... the  glory of the Grand March was equal to the comic vanity of its marchers, that the exquisite noise of European history was lost in an infinite silence and that there was no longer any difference between history and silence. He felt like placing his own life on the scales; he wanted to prove that the Grand March weighed more than shit.

But man can prove nothing of the sort. One pan of the scales held shit; on the other, Stalin's son put his entire body. And the scales did not move.

Ale clovek nic takového nedokáže. Na jedné misce vah bylo hovno, na druhou se Stalinuv syn položil celým svým telem a váhy se nepohnuly.

And so one day [Sabrina] composed a will in which she requested that her dead body be cremated and its ashes thrown to the winds. Tereza and Tomas had died under the sign of weight. She wanted to die under the sign of lightness. She would be lighter than air. As Parmenides would put it, the negative would change into the positive.

Napsala proto jednoho dne závet, v niž stanovila, že její mrtvé telo má být spáleno a popel rozprášen. Tereza a Tomáš zemreli ve znamení tíže. Ona chce zemrít ve znamení lehkosti. Bude lehcí než vzduch. Podle Parmenida je to promena negativního v pozitivní. 

Only now did he know. He had come to find out once and for all that neither parades nor Sabina but rather the girl with the glasses was his real life, his only real life! He had come to find out that reality was more than a dream, much more than a dream!

Proc sem vubec jel? Ted to ví. Jel sem, aby si konecne uvedomil, že nikoli pruvody; nikoli Sabina, ale jeho brýlatá dívka je jeho skutecný život, jediný skutecný život! Jel sem, aby si uvedomil, že skutecnost je víc než sen, mnohem víc než sen

What remains of the dying population of Cambodia?
One large photograph of an American actress holding an Asian child in her arms.
What remains of Tomas?
What remains of Beethoven?
A frown, an improbable mane, and a somber voice intoning Es muss sein!
What remains of Franz?
An inscription reading A RETURN AFTER LONG WANDERINGS.
And so on and so forth.

People started being removed from their jobs, arrested, put on trial. At last the animals could breathe freely.

The longing for Paradise is man's longing not to be man.

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.

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

a lamp that had never stopped burning in anticipation of her return,

Missions are stupid, Tereza. I have no mission. No one has. And it's a terrific relief to realize you're free, free of all missions.

And, of course ... sex.