Sunday, March 22, 2009

Post 571 : Passages 52 : Milan Kundera, Identity : Purpose of life

Milan Kundera, Identity, Page 128-130

‘…of which man is, however, a mere instrument.’ Leroy interrupted : ‘The invention of the locomotive contains the seed of the aeroplane’s design, which lead ineluctably to the space rocket. That logic is contained in the things themselves, in other words, it is part of the divine project. You can turn in the whole human race for a different one, and still the evolution that leads from the bicycle to the rocket will be just the same. Man is only an operator, not the author of the evolution. And a partly operator at that, since he doesn’t know the meaning of what he is operating. That meaning doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to God alone, and we’re here only to obey Him so that He can do what He wants.’

elsewhere on the page…

Chantal: ‘ But in that case, why are we here below? Why are we living?’

a paragraph apart

Why are we living? To provide God with human flesh. Because the Bible, my dear lady, does not ask us to seek the meaning of life. It asks us to procreate. Love one another and procreate. Understand the meaning of that “love one another” is determined by that “procreate:. That “love one another” carries absolutely no implication on charitable love, of compassionate, spiritual or passionate love, it only means very simply “make love!” “copulate” (he drops his voice and leans towards her) “fuck!” (Like a devout disciple, docilely, the lady fazes into his eyes). ‘That, and that alone, constitutes the mean of human life. All the rest if bullshit.’

On page 132

We’re going deeper and deeper.’ said the lady anxiously.

‘To where truth resides’, said Chantal.

‘To where’, added Leroy, ‘ resides the answer to your question: why are living? What is essential in life?’. He looked hard at the lady: ‘ The essential, in life, is to perpetuate life: it is childbirth, and what precedes it, coitus, and what precedes coitus, seduction, that is to say kisses, hair floating in the wind, silk underwear, well-cut brassieres, and everything else that makes people ready for coitus, for instance good food  not fine cuisine, a superfluous thing no one appreciates any more, but the food everyone buys – and along with food, defecation, because you know, my dear lady, my beautiful adored lady, you know what a huge position the praise of toilet paper occupies in our profession. Toilet paper, supplies, detergents, food. That is man’s sacred circle, and our mission is not only to discover it, seize it, and map it, but to make it beautiful, to transform it into song. Thanks to our influence, toilet paper is almost exclusively pink, and that is a high edifying fact, which, my dear and anxious lady, I would recommend that you contemplate seriously’.


But then where is the grandeur of life? If we’re condemned to food and coitus and toiler paper, who are we? And if that’s all we are capable of, why pride can we take in the fact that we are, as they tell us, free beings?’

On the next page…

Leroy interrupted Chantal’s fantasies: ‘Freedom? As you live out your desolation, you can either be unhappy or happy. Having that choice is what comprises your freedom. Your free to melt your own individuality into the cauldron of the multitude either with a feeling of defeat or with euphoria. Our choice, my dear lady is, euphoria.

Chantal felt a smile take shape on her face. She paid serious attention to what Leroy had just said : out only freedom is choosing between bitterness and pleasure. Since the insignificance of all things is our lot, we should bear it as an affliction but when to enjoy it.

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