I was reading one of the chapters towards the end of Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting yesterday.
It’s a dream-type sequence, or an imagination of a kind of afterlife, maybe a limbo, where you go before you really die.
Tamina, this woman, just ups and leaves her job in a café, hightails it with an angel in a sports car. He leaves her at a shore. She’s rowed to an island by a child, and then stranded there. She’s shown to her bed in a dorm, where all the other kids sleep. She’s the only adult. She searches for an escape. There is none and she settles down to living there.
The kids are fascinated by her.
There are teams of children, named after animals. The Squirrels sit shitting and pissing on toilets in the bathroom, while across from them, the Cats wash themselves at wash basins. Then they change over.
After a while, the kids want to wash her. She lets them, and it becomes sensual, sexual. They basically rape her. It’s written beautifully, strangely. You wonder if someone could write this today. You read the lines half-visualizing what’s going on, half trying not to visualize it, because it’s like one of those dreams that you’re not supposed to have.
He just says she’s rocked in a sensual way and gives in to it.
In between these scenes there are musings on music – his Dad’s love of it – Beethoven’s concentration on Variations at the end of his life – the inane music of today (“the monotonous rhythm of the soulless cry” which we all need, from time to time)…the usual Milan stuff:
- “Sex is not love but merely a territory love takes over.”
- “Children have no past, and that is the whole secret of the magical innocence of their smiles.”
- “Humans do not revolt against the killing of calves in slaughterhouses.”
Milan will be 86 this April Fool’s Day. Why hasn’t he won the Nobel Prize?
Can we start a petition?