Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Jun 10, 2013

THE READER: Testament Betrayed by Milan Kundera

Testament Betrayed is a book which brings out the times that we live in and how we become what we are. A collection of essays which brings out arrays of ideas in a coherent narrative. For the writer’s its kind of challenge that Milan Kundera throws to come out of the set thought pattern and travel out of one’s comfort zone to explore spaces that sometimes are dark, filled with unknown doubts but sometimes brings out the light as at the end of tunnel. Inspired me to think beyond the form of writing novel, structure and the limits of thought out characters. Made me to write the way one talks to a friend… 

Giving below some of very powerful thoughts from the book “Testament Betrayed”. If you are a serious aspiring author, then you must read this book and if you have time, check out my feature on “How To Write A Book” based on his thoughts from “The Art Of Writing Novel”. Click here to read…

MILAN KUNDERA – A Brief Biography
Milan Kundera (born 1 April 1929) is the Czech Republic's most recognized living writer of Czech origin, he has lived in exile in France since 1975, having become a naturalised citizen in 1981.

Kundera's best-known work is The Unbearable Lightness of Being. His books were banned by the Communist regimes of Czechoslovakia until the downfall of the regime in the Velvet Revolution of 1989. He lives virtually incognito and rarely speaks to the media. A perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, he has been nominated on several occasions

He belonged to the generation of young Czechs who had had little or no experience of the pre-war democratic Czechoslovak Republic. Their ideology was greatly influenced by the experiences of World War II and the German occupation. Kundera remained committed to reforming Czech communism, and argued vehemently in print with fellow Czech writer Václav Havel, saying, essentially, that everyone should remain calm and that "nobody is being locked up for his opinions yet," and "the significance of the Prague Autumn may ultimately be greater than that of the Prague Spring." Finally, however, Kundera relinquished his reformist dreams and moved to France in 1975. He taught for a few years in the University of Rennes. He was stripped of Czechoslovak citizenship in 1979; he has been a French citizen since 1981.

He maintains contacts with Czech and Slovak friends in his homeland, but rarely returns and always does so incognito.

Kundera is more concerned with the words that shape or mould his characters than with the characters'
physical appearance. In his non-fiction work, The Art of the Novel, he says that the reader's imagination automatically completes the writer's vision. He, as the writer, wishes to focus on the essential insofar as the physical is not critical to an understanding of the character. For him the essential may not include the physical appearance or even the interior world (the psychological world) of his characters. Other times, a specific feature or trait may become the character's idiosyncratic focus.

Thoughts from  Testament Betrayed

The removal of Gods from the world is one of the phenomenons that characterize the Modern Era.

An important note: imitation does not mean lack of authenticity, for the individual cannot do otherwise than imitate what has already happened; sincere as he maybe, he is only a reincarnation; truthful as he may be, he is only a sum of the suggestions and requirements that emanate from the well of the past.

All of man’s love seeks to win woman’s good will and kindness – Kafka (The Enchanted Kingdom of Love)

Through ecstasy, emotion reaches its climax, and thereby at the same time its negation (its oblivion)

Ecstasy is absolute identity with the present instant, total forgetting of past and future.

Living is a perpetual heavy effort not to lose sight of ourselves, to stay solidly present in ourselves, in our stasis. Step outside ourselves for a mere instant, and we verge on death’s dominion.

History is not necessarily a path climbing upwards (Towards the richer, the more cultivated), that the demands of art may be counter to the demands of the moment (of this or that modernity), and that the new (the unique, the inimitable, the previously unsaid) might lie in some direction other than the one everybody sees as progress.

“Among it’s mad enticements, one could only walk still farther, go still astray” Kafka

His seeking mouth found hers, which was now pressed against his like the muzzle of an animal against a pane of glass, and Esch was enraged because she kept her soul imprisoned behind her set teeth, to prevent him from possessing it.” – Broch’s “The sleepwalkers”

“She was seeking something and he was seeking something, maddened, grimacing, heads thrusting into each other’s chest as they sought, and their embraces and their tossing bodies did not make them forget but rather reminded them of the necessity to seek, as dogs desperately paw at the ground they pawed each others body… “ Kafka in The Castle

“A thought comes when it wants to, and not when I want it to” Nietzsche

We should neither conceal nor corrupt the actual way our thoughts come to us” Nietzsche

Great changes often have an unobtrusive appearance.

Tolstoy thus offers us another conception of man: he is an itinerary; a winding road; a journeys whose successive phases not only vary but often represent a total negation of the preceding phases.

They (People) change not in order to draw closer to some essential self but in order to merge with everyone else; changing lets them stay unchanged.

Rock is the only light music in which melody is not predominant; people don’t hum rock music.

Memories are only confirmation of an absence.

What is an individual? Wherein does his identity reside? All novels seek to answer these questions.

When we study, discuss, analyze a reality, we analyze it as it appears in our mind, in our memory. We know reality only in the past tense. … Present moment is unlike the memory of it. Remembering is not the negative of forgetting. Remembering is a form of forgetting.

Beethoven saw that the only way to get around, what Milan Kundera termed as ‘Stupidity of music’ ( – weeping into their adagios, and then turning into little children when the last moment starts, starting into the school yard to dance, hop, and holler that all’s well that ends well) is to make composition radically individual.

Milan’s music teacher to him “There are many surprisingly weak passages in Beethoven. But it is the weak passages that bring out the strong ones. It’s like lawn – if it weren’t there, we could not enjoy the beautiful tree growing on it.”
नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
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