Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kundera rides the rails

I'm on the train from Pardubice to Prague. It's 2002. I've got Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being spread out across my lap.

I've forgotten the sparse fields, which in less than a week during spring will blossom green and generous, outside my window. I've managed to tune out the snoring old man en route to a doctor's appointment. I've somehow ripped my eyes away from the wild-eyed Czech girl sprawled across from me, her shirt entirely undone save for one button near her midriff.

I'm busy.

I'm reading.

Tomas came to this conclusion: Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).

I wrestled to make sense of that then.

Today I've stopped wrestling, but I still find Kundera's concept interesting.

Doesn't love tie these two desires -- sleep and sex -- together?

In Prague, they didn't. But in Prague, what I had was not love. What I had was a name, a single being on which to focus my feelings when the loneliness grew like ice.

Today, what I have is different.


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