Monday, February 29, 2016

Currently Reading 2.29.16





Where I Read “Unbearable Lightness of Being”
By A.M.


Over the Winter break my family went to Portugal for a little bit, then Morocco for another little bit. Me and my girlfriend like talking ideas, and we wouldn’t be seeing each other for a while. We chose books to read so we could disagree about them and keep a healthy argument going from afar. She had us start with Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being. I loved reading it on the plane, and I loved reading it from the kitchenette of the Airbnb we stayed in while in Portugal. From said kitchenette I had a view that went across the street. The facades of these buildings wore their age with dignity, sporting faded edges dancing around the yellow pastels like a frame, graffiti scribbled with a delicate respect like a patch sewn into a sweater. That’s what I looked up at in between pages from the kitchenette window. I could see into the window directly across from my own. Coming out from said window was a laundry line that an old  woman would string her clothes on every morning. She reminded me of my grandmother. She reminded me of a metronome. I’ve been reading a good bit about modernism in class, and a key aspect of modernism is the treatment of the city. A concern with the city is it’s rhythm. I read Kundera’s book, set in Prague, to the rhythm of Portugal. This was an important realization for me, and I think that reading with this phenomena in mind could add a level of appreciation to the experience that perhaps went unconsidered. I don’t notice the rhythm of New York, I’ve been here for some time and I feel I’ve fallen into it’s dance. I watched for a little while, caught on, and became lost in it. A great achievement in many regards, but what I lost in said transition was an awareness of it’s effect on my experience. I’m sure I read in the rhythm of New York by default. In Portugal I got a chance to watch a city move for the first time, and I read Kundera’s book in beat. I suppose this isn’t a post about the book at all, although there is a lot to talk about within the book. I thought a lot about what strength entails when reading the book. As far as ideas within the novel,the question of strength may not be essential, but it’s what stuck with me. I've been consistently reevaluating what inside of these characters was a factor of their strength and what was a factor of their weakness. The obfuscation of the two colors my meditations on the novel. Maybe Portugal felt more like Kundera’s Prague to me. Perhaps the novel was the metronome, and my experience of the city was informed by its cadence as opposed to the other way around. I don’t think this is the case, but it’s a possibility. My father and I met an artist that lived in an apartment a few blocks from ours. We were invited to his studio and watched him work with salvaged furniture, splintering it and reforming it into a dress around a makeshift mannequin. His mannerisms reminded me of Tomas from Unbearable Lightness of Being, the comfort with which his voice carried authority. He was a Dutch man, and he moved to Lisbon 25 years ago (I forgot exactly how many years ago) chasing love. He is no longer in a relationship with the woman that lured him home, but he assured us they maintain a healthy affair.  

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