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The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
by Milan Kundera

 Topic: 
       The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (1 of 105), Read
       118 times 
  Conf: 
       READING LIST BOOKS 
 From: 
       Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) 
  Date: 
       Sunday, October 17, 1999 10:29 AM 


I thought that the connections between the stories were weaker
than in Kundera's other novels, but there were some interesting
variations on the nature of memory and how we manipulate it.
Memory refers to both the collective memory we call history and our
own personal definition of ourselves.

I couldn't "approve" of Mirek's attempt to rewrite his personal history
by destroying evidence of his affair with Zdena, who is described as
downright "ugly", not only unattractive. However, I could certainly
understand it. Kundera is showing us something true about human
nature. People judge us by the associations we keep, and Mirek's
affair with an ugly woman would reflect on his own attractiveness in
the eyes of others. Of course, this is all quite ironic since the young
Mirek is described as having skin "still covered with youthful acne" so
he was probably no prize himself.

Kundera relates Mirek's attempt to rewrite his personal history to
that of the Czech Communist efforts to rewrite the nation's political
history. The Communist replacement of historical facts with their own
fictional version of events is something Kundera returns to again and
again in this book.

Of Mirek, he says:
He wanted to efface her from the photograph of his life not because
he had not loved her but because he had. He had erased her, her
and his love for her, he had scratched out her image until he had
made it disappear as the party propaganda section had made
Clementis disappear from the balcony where Gottwald had given his
historic speech. Mirek rewrote history just like the Communist Party,
like all political parties, like all peoples, like mankind. 17, p.30

The second story, "Mama" also shows a person who rewrites the
past to suit herself. The elderly mother transforms her recitation of a
Christmas poem at a school assembly before the war into a
demonstration of patriotic fervor after the declaration of Czech
independence. She eventually realizes her error but happily continues
the lie, and no one else notices or cares. Maybe sometimes we all
find it psychologically necessary to "improve" our past.

Finally, Tamina attempts to find release from the now painful
memories of her happy marriage by regressing to the world of
children, escaping to a period which predates her memories.

Memory is our link to the past, and this is a book which concentrates
on the past. The present is empty and the future is meaningless.
Kundera wrote it in exile and it reflects his pain at being uprooted
from his personal past and native culture.

For me, the book brings up some important questions about memory.
Sometimes that little girl I was 40 years ago seems like a complete
stranger. To what extent am I still her? In my case, I have few
concrete memories of my childhood, but I wonder why I chose to
remember some things and repress others. And I wonder to what
extent I have remolded some of them to fit the story I have told
myself. 

Does anyone else wonder about these things?

Ann

 
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (2 of 105), Read 89 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, October 17, 1999 01:07 PM Ann, you write the best notes! You make me think, now why didn't I see that. I liked what you said about memory very much. Ruth, who often wonders about why certain trivial moments are so strong in my memory, and other truly important ones are entirely forgotten Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (3 of 105), Read 83 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Sunday, October 17, 1999 11:53 PM ANN Well, I certainly wonder about my younger self also. My hope is that the little boy who was, still is---a little bit. EDD
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (4 of 105), Read 91 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, October 17, 1999 01:42 PM Oh, Ann, the answer to your question is, "Absolutely!" I ponder that same subject often, and never joyfully either. However, in this one instance I am uncharacteristically going to emulate the Tamina of the graphomania section of this book. ("The whole secret of Tamina's popularity is that she has no desire to talk about herself. She offers no resistance to the forces occupying her ear; she never says, 'That's just like me, I. . .'") The import of laughter and the treatment of that theme in this book is certainly a bit more difficult to grasp than the subject of memory. (Clearly, Kundera is advancing the proposition that it is necessary in order to continue with our existence that we edit our memories, or rewrite them, as several here have already observed.) I think this may be because Kundera does not regard laughter, at least of the sort he refers to, as the saving grace or the redemptive force that many of us consider it to be (certainly me anyway). When the Isreali student Sarah unexpectedly gets up, walks around behind the two teacher's pets, and kicks one in the rear end, this results in a circle dance involving the two teacher's pets and the teacher. They ascend, laughing, before the horrified class. (Garcia Marquez is such wonderful preparation for this author.) At the end of that section, Kundera affirms his connection with Sarah. So this is the laughter of those in that circle dance from which Kundera has been ejected. "'Laughter, on the other hand,' continued Petrarch, 'is an explosion that tears us away from the world and drops us into frigid solitude. A joke is a barrier between man and the world. A joke is an enemy of love and poetry. So let me tell you again--and don't you forget it--Boccaccio doesn't know a thing about love. Love can't be laughable. Love has nothing in common with laughter.' 'Yes!' said the student enthusiastically. He saw the world as divided in two: half love, half joke. He knew that he belonged, and would always belong, to Petrarch's army." Damn, that's interesting! I will be thinking about that one for a long time. And what a great group this is, too! There are so many authors and so many individual novels that I would never have found but for this group. Garcia Marquez, Coetzee, Ondaatje, Corelli's Mandolin, The White Hotel. For me Milan Kundera is in that category in spades. Absolutely fascinating and so full of ideas. I must tell you that I have no interest in trying to determine whether this book is a novel, a collection of short stories, a poem, a play, or a movie. It is one of those rare books that transcends genre. Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (5 of 105), Read 93 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, October 17, 1999 01:48 PM Damnit, Sherry! I ruined the beautiful symmetry of this thread by failing to refresh and catch Ruth's last before posting my own. Up 'til now I have been doing so well in replying only to the last note. Sorry. Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (6 of 105), Read 94 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, October 17, 1999 05:26 PM I, too, noticed that the "novel" hangs together by the intertwined themes of "laughter" and "forgetting". It seems the book should have been called The Art of Laughter and Forgetting , since Kundera seems to tackle the intertwined themes of laughter and forgetting as well as delineating the "art" of laughter, the "art" of forgetting, and the "art" of trying not to forget. Think of the woman trying desperately to get her "journals" back because she needs them to help her remember. Think of the "art" of the mother-in-law trying to get her memory to coincide with actual historical events (She recites the Christmas poem from memory and no one present questions why such a work of verse would be spoken at a political event). Also Kundera's focus on the literary realm--quoting or using examples from Flaubert, Joyce, Ionesco, and Homer--the 'literary artists' who have somehow managed to keep things fresh in the memory through art. It would seem that, at heart, Kundera is very much interested in the "writer" and the "writer's power" to either create humor, ensure remembrance, or, to do like Kundera, to ensure remembrance for totalitarian exploitation with humor. Think: How different would Powell's novel In the Memory of the Forest have been if some Kundera had made sure that everyone noted the irony of a town which does not think about the absent people whose homes and world they occupy? For Powell, there's memory's markers in the form of tombstones, and hidden objects in the niche of doorways. Here, in Kundera, it's the memory of journals, of old age, and the words of the artists striving desperately to ensure that no one soon forgets. Dan Dan
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (7 of 105), Read 93 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, October 17, 1999 08:32 PM I found it interesting that Kundera seems to find that laughter is a negative thing (as someone mentioned in a previous note here). When Jan is on the verge of having sex with the married woman from ten years earlier, he feels that she is on the verge of laughter. He knows that if he laughs he will no longer want her. "He realized he was only a hairsbreadth from bursting into laughter. But he knew that if he did, they would no longer be able to make love. Laughter was there like an enormous trap waiting patiently in the room, hidden behind a thin, invisible partition. Only a few millimeters separated physical love from laughter, and he dreaded crossing them. Only a few millimeters separated him from the other side of the border, where things no longer have meaning." This thought seems frightening to me. Jane
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (8 of 105), Read 94 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, October 17, 1999 09:51 PM Steve and Jane, You both noted that Kundera doesn't seem to view laughter in a positive light. This is so foreign to my own experience that I had trouble seeing the connections with the laughter theme. Thanks for elaborating on them, Steve. I went back and reread the first "The Angels" chapter which Steve discussed so well. Section 4 of this chapter is called "(On Two Kinds of Laughter)". In this chapter, Kundera says that the devils are the source of one kind of laughter, the kind that recognizes the incongruity of things or mocks the established way of thinking. It has its malicious side, but it also gives us relief from the pressures of the world. To counteract this, the angels came up with their own kind of laughter, the type that rejoices in the present and takes pleasure in the way things are. Being a rebel against the established order, which has made him an exile from his home, language, and vocation, the narrator sides with the devils. The angels represent order, rationality, and authority, but their laughter has a cruel streak because it excludes those who are not in the inner circle and it is dangerous because to participate in it you must accept the status quo. Another author might term the angels' type of laugher "joy," but Kundera's protagonists seem to find joy impossible. Or am I missing something here? And "angels" are definitely rather nasty creatures in this book. Sherry has already commented on those seemingly innocent, but in reality cruel children in the second "The Angels" chapter. The narrator describes how he has experienced the sensation of falling ever since he was expelled from the ring dance. He says he falls "further and further from my country into the deserted space of a world where the fearsome laughter of the angels rings out, drowning all my words with its jangle." No, in contrast to their usual role, these angels never signify anything good. The section where the student experiences horrible, but unnecessary frustration while in bed with the butcher's wife is ironically titled "Angel's Hover Above the Student's Bed." As is true of his treatment of laughter and angels, Kundera turns things on their head and makes us look at things in a fresh way. I may not always agree with him, but I enjoy the experience. One more thing, and then I'll shut up for awhile. Steve, I also underlined the section you quoted about Petrarch, laughter, love and poetry. But I had the distinct impression that Kundera was mocking both the poet and the student. What do you think? Ann
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (9 of 105), Read 94 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, October 17, 1999 11:42 PM If Kundera was mocking there, Ann, then he foxed me. I may have to rethink that section. Right now, though, I still think these are Kundera's thoughts concerning the joke being the antithesis of love because of the very passage that Jane refers to above. That passage says the same thing a different way from my point of view. Could be wrong about all of this though. Clearly, that section about the two kinds of laughter in the first Angels section is critical. Just as critical is this little speech by Boccaccio of whom Petrarch disapproves: "From time immemorial men have been divided into two large categories: idolizers--also known as poets--and misogynists--or, rather, gynophobes. Idolizers or poets worship the traditional feminine values of feelings, house and home, motherhood, fertility, divine flashes of hysteria, and the divine voice of nature in us; misogynists or gynophobes experience mild terror at the thought of them. The idolizer worships womankind in a woman; the gynophobe prefers the woman to womankind. And keep one thing in mind: a woman can be happy only with a misogynist. No woman has been happy with any of you! [speaking to the poets.]" If Kundera is mocking Petrarch and the student, then this must be his viewpoint. . .or perhaps none of these is his viewpoint, and he is just setting up an amusing debate for us, which I doubt. Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (10 of 105), Read 95 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 01:33 AM Steve, I think Kundera is ALWAYS setting up an amusing little debate - the dude is just too cool to make an actual argument, don't you think? I've read this book numerous times, and must say did not enjoy it nearly as much this time around. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood. I actually enjoyed reading the notes here more than reading the book (Ann, I especially liked your two posts, they were very illuminating, not to mention well-written. But all of you were great, as usual.) Kundera has a book of short stories, "Laughable Loves," that I believe would illuminate further for you some of the themes in this book. I have a hard time understanding why Updike irritates me so, yet Kundera, who in some ways is no better, is just a charming old rogue (aside from the fact that Kundera has a much more reliable ense of humor.) It may be that, as an American, Updike hits closer to home for me (ick, I might actually have to deal with the guy, or his doppelganger, some day or other.) Kundera, at more of a remove, is just amusing. I'm not saying that Updike and Kundera share a similar world view, but there are tonal similarities, for want of a better phrase. Theresa
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (11 of 105), Read 95 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 08:32 AM Theresa: Kundera's riffs on the subject of memory and forgetting remind me of what I think is one of the most moving passages in Marquez's ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. People in the town of Macondo begin having a "plague of memory," and realize that they're daily forgetting more and more things. In desperation, they appoint the person in the village who is most fluent with words to make signs and attach them to all the objects in their daily lives: "This is a cow. Cows are important because they give milk. Cows should be milked every..." and on, and on. Whatever Marquez intended, for me it was a beautiful allegory of what writers do...telling, in some ways, the "same" stories century after century, but reminding us of what is important in our lives when our culture distracts us to forgetfulness in that regard. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (12 of 105), Read 99 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 10:04 AM You know something, Ann? In all fairness to Mirek, I think his wish to erase Zdena had more to do with the fact that she continued as an unreconstructed Russophile than the fact that she was ugly. However, the fact that she was ugly probably added further motivation. In the end here is the thing that most interests me about Kundera. It is very hard for us to imagine living in a world of really intrusive thought police and a world of informers. He has a knack for conveying what that was like. I have read a good deal about the Stasi in East Germany, the files they maintained on everybody, and people's reactions now that they have gained access to their own files and learn that close friends were informing on them. However, it was only when I started reading this guy that I really started to imagine what that must be like. One starts to size up one's own family and acquaintances. Which of these would run off to the secret police to tell them about a lose remark you made about the government in a bar? Which one's would remain loyal when you do get in trouble with the secret police. . .at a risk to their own jobs or their own families? Would we ourselves inform to save our own jobs or our own families? These are tough questions, and thank goodness very few of us are ever put to the test. I mean, we know what we would like to think our conduct would be, but I don't think anyone truly knows that about themselves until crunch time. Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (13 of 105), Read 98 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 11:51 AM STEVE As a tangential follow-up to that thought; some where I read that the reason the British captured Nathan Hale was because of informants. And the informants were relatives. If you ever do dastardly deeds, I would recommend not informing any relatives. Especially in-laws. EDD
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (14 of 105), Read 103 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 12:24 PM From the passage quoted earlier, about the narrator mentioning he has been "falling ever since" from the circle--that is an image straight from Paradise Lost and, of course, from the Bible, and symbolically links the narrator with those of the "fallen" demons. Interesting that I never noted that before. I find a major theme in Kundera's novel when he notes the chaos produced by "graphomania:" The proliferation of mass graphomania among politicians, cab drivers, women on the delivery table, mistresses, murderers, criminals, prostitutes, police chiefs, doctors, and patients proves to me that every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself and that all mankind has every right to rush out into the streets with a cry of 'We are all writers!' The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding. {I can't help but notice (intentional or not is debatable), but look at his list of "people" in the above paragraph, particularly how females fare. It goes from the woman in the agony of labor and ends with "prostitutes." It is an interesting list when one scrutinizes it.} The characters in this novel tend to be "graphomaniacs." There's also the sense that without writing, events and emotions are forgotten. It seems once the event or the emotion is encased in words, then one need not exercise the memory anymore. The art of memorization, of imagining the past through the filters of the present, is a necessary art. Besides, the novel opens with an image of a "graph"--the political photograph--airbrushed and changed so as to "read" something different. Kundera implies that someone like Tamina should not focus so hard on the "words" in old love letters and such to bring back the past. Notice her ability to imagine her husband's face is flawed; she's hooked on a universe of words. And you know two universes can't live near one another, like, say shoe cobblers. Dan
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (15 of 105), Read 99 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 12:59 PM Mr. Warbasse and I usually see eye to eye on these things, but in this case we do disagree. The erasure of Zdena absolutely smacked of central European male arrogance to me and not merely a political metaphor; indeed I thought politics was simply an excuse for the old boyfriend to follow his natural inclinations in that matter. I've also been moderately astonished to see such ugly threads about male-female relations in the book being passed over very lightly (except by Theresa who nailed it, I think, by comparing Kundera to Updike in that regard, and also nailed it by suggesting that we're more comfortable with Kundera's version of male nastiness because he has that cool, continental European savoir your mama, which excuses a great deal that wouldn't otherwise be tolerated so easily by an American reader). In sum, I think Milan has written a very clever little book here, but I'm not nearly as sure as some of the rest of you that it's got much meat on its bones. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (16 of 105), Read 98 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 02:23 PM This was one of those books that I enjoyed reading, but would have to re-read to begin to analyze. Unfortunately, Finnish verbs are calling my name... Anyway, I did want to note the thread on music running through the book, which I think is related to the "graphomania" idea and also to the "Celebrity and Pulp" thread in CS. There are several places in TBOLAF where characters want background music to be turned off. Then in Scenes 17 and 18 of the second "Angels" chapter, there is a long description of how "progress" (represented by Schoenberg and the twelve-tone system)caused the history of music to end. Kundera says: "Those who are fascinated by the idea of progress do not suspect that everything that is moving forward is at the same time bringing the end nearer and that joyous watchwords like "forward" and "farther" are the lascivious voice of death urging us to hasten to it." However, in Kundera's view what is left after the death of music is not silence but more and more music -- music everywhere -- "stereotyped harmonies, banal melodies, and rhythms..." Music has become divorced from memory and the "Idiot of Music" become a tool of the "President of Forgetting." I think that there is a parallel with graphomania replacing memory with words. I also wonder if this phenomenon could be a cause of the cult of celebrity and "mindless entertainment." Is this too a way of forgetting? Bea P.S. The attitude toward women in this book would have been more disturbing to me if I had not some inkling that it was symbolic of something else. On the other hand, I don't know if a re-reading would, or would not, reveal any more "there" there.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (17 of 105), Read 101 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 02:31 PM I guess I don't get too upset about the treatment of women in Updike or Kundera, because my general tendency is to think, "This is a fictional character who is a jerk in his attitude towards woman. And since actual jerks in that regard exist, as we all know only too well, I'm willing to let fictional jerks exist. Ruth, pondering if she's an easy mark Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (18 of 105), Read 107 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 03:21 PM Ruth wrote, I guess I don't get too upset about the treatment of women in Updike or Kundera, because my general tendency is to think, "This is a fictional character who is a jerk in his attitude towards women. And since actual jerks in that regard exist, as we all know only too well, I'm willing to let fictional jerks exist. To which I respond, Hallelujah! Creating an ordinary jerk in fiction is fairly easy, but creating quintessential jerks, both male and female, whom we meet each day, is an achievement to be celebrated. As to whether characters or stories reflect their author's own opinions, I say that the more irritating/aggravating/ingratiating the character is, the less he/she has to do with the author's own feelings and perceptions, for reasons I could go on for days about. But, dinner soon awaits... >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (19 of 105), Read 95 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 07:09 PM I find this a great thread, full of provocative ideas and questions. I would note that I haven't read the book and that the postings and quotes here have convinced me that nohow, noway would I want to. I have not yet, but I think I will have to go off and wrestle with why I feel this book is so much against my "grain." That said, these comments: Dale said: Whatever Marquez intended, for me it was a beautiful allegory of what writers do...telling, in some ways, the "same" stories century after century, but reminding us of what is important in our lives when our culture distracts us to forgetfulness in that regard. I think that "reminding us of what is important in our lives" beautifully describes what books and writings do for us and why we almost clutch them - even the P.G. Wodehouse stories and the like. I wonder whether Kundera does this - satisfactorily "reminds" us or just stirs up the pot. I know that the "reminding" books need to have substance and life, and . . . ? Daniel quotes from TBOLAF: The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding. "everyone has trouble accepting . . ." A very nasty sentence this; you, an everyone, have these troubles. Do I? I gather that Kundera resents the fact that other people may want to write and compete with him so he attributes their writing, all writing, to a fear of a death not sufficiently mourned by the world. And, by implication, all living of life to a fear of death. I just think there is a more balanced view. Further to this, the passage Bea quotes: Those who are fascinated by the idea of progress do not suspect that everything that is moving forward is at the same time bringing the end nearer and that joyous watchwords like "forward" and "farther" are the lascivious voice of death urging us to hasten to it. Note how "forward" and "farther" are ironically characterized as "joyous watchwords." Watchwords ? ? ? And Dale says: To which I respond, Hallelujah! Creating an ordinary jerk in fiction is fairly easy, but creating quintessential jerks, both male and female, whom we meet each day, is an achievement to be celebrated. Yes, I'm sure that there is some great literature that has its merit in the portrait of a "quintessential jerk," but to encourage the darlings by celebrating the creation of their portrait? PRES How do I know what I think until I see what I say?
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (20 of 105), Read 93 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Monday, October 18, 1999 09:04 PM Pres, I wish you would read this book because it really isn't the entirely negative diatribe our quotations might have led you to expect. There is some real feeling in this book as well, although I grant you the overall tone is one of sadness, anger and loss. Kundera is a satirist and most of his humor is not kind. It has a bite to it that not everyone will enjoy. But he is also capable of treating some of his characters with great tenderness and sympathy. In this book, it is Tamina whom he treats gently. For example, in the first "Angels" chapter the narrator, who also describes the painful loss of his father, compares his book to the variations of Beethoven. He says: It is not surprising that in his later years variations became the favorite form for Beethoven, who knew all too well (as Tamina and I know) that there is nothing more unbearable than lacking the being we loved, those sixteen measures and the interior world of the infinitude of possibilities. I think that is a beautiful expression of the nature of loss. In the UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING, he deals similarly with Tereza. Both of these characters are women. Perhaps it is his ability to create real and sympathetic women which distinguishes him from Updike (although I really shouldn't say because Updike has never interested me enough to finish one of his books). Dick is right that many of his characters are outrageous sexists. There are so many womanizers in his stories that I have concluded this must be part of his own character. However, he mocks these womanizers unmercifully and they never seem to obtain real satisfaction. That is probably why my feminist side finds it so easy to forgive him. Steve, I want to thank you for linking Petrarch quotes on the incompatibility of love and joking with Jane's quote from the last chapter where laughter during love making risks crossing to the other side of the border, "where things no longer have meaning." Overall, I still think that Petrarch is an object of ridicule, but Kundera does give him some meaningful lines, among them the ones you quoted. Kundera seems to be talking about the devil's kind of laughter in both cases, the kind based on ridicule or the incongruity of a joke. If you go too far in this direction, (as for example with literary satire?), you may risk crossing to the other side of the border, "where everything -love, convictions, faith, history-no longer has meaning." This is a great discussion, folks, and you're all helping me see those connections I missed on the first read. Ann
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (21 of 105), Read 99 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 01:08 AM Ann, I am just going to take a seat over here on the side and kibitz for awhile until the obligatory phase of the discussion dealing with whether the author or one of his characters was properly respectful of women is concluded. I have participated in more than enough of those and have gotten too old and cranky to care whether a particular author or his creation is properly respectful of women or blacks or Jews or American Indians or Indian Indians or animals or rain forest or midgets or anyone or anything else. All that and who here is troubled by it just seem so utterly beside the point. I am sure I am in error with this attitude, but it's just the way I am. Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (22 of 105), Read 89 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 12:33 PM Earlier, someone noticed the music motif which runs through Kundera's work. How interesting that Kundera takes the time to actually explain to the reader how this book is to be approached, using "music" as an analogy: This entire book is a novel in the form of variations. The individual parts follow each other like individual stretches of a journey leading towards a theme, a thought, a single situation, the sense of which fades into the distance. It is a novel about Tamina, and whenever Tamina is absent, it is a novel for Tamina. She is its main character and main audience, and all the other stories are variations on her story and come together in her life as in a mirror. It is a novel about laughter and forgetting, about forgetting and Prague, about Prague and the angels. By the way, it is not the least bit accidental that the name of the young man sitting at the wheel is Raphael... I find this a very humorous section--the author taking the time to "explain" the structure and organization of his creation, while within the same work he has been complaining that there is too much writing going on. Then, I love the final sentence--from authorial discussions he shifts right back into the narrative proper with a cute little sequitar --"By the way, Reader, it is very VERY important you keep "ANGELS" in mind considering that the man driving Tamina away is RAPHAEL, an ANGEL, GET IT? GET IT? ISN'T THAT CLEVER?" While I can't prove it, I believe Kundera is intentionally poking fun at authorial intrusions. Recall the literary critical school of "Reader Response," with Stanley Fish and fellows. I always thought that Fish allowed the reader too much interpretive freedom, actually asserting that the reader creates the overall text and the author's purpose is negligible. I always preferred Wolfgang Iser's approach--the author must establish his text as best as possible to guide readers to the conclusions the author wishes the readers to conclude when concluding the text. However, if he is a weak writer (of course, Iser allows "weak readers," but let's stick to writers for now) or such, he is "mis-read" and readers come away with "mistakes" and such. Here Kundera seems to have fun with the reader's responses. Hell, he takes the time to tell you HOW to READ his BOOK--it's a NOVEL, but it is a series of VARIATIONS, but TAMINA is the core character. "Why thank you, Author, I was so befuddled before and now I'm more befuddled than ever." "Don't mention it, Reader. Everything's fine, I'm a pretty decent writer." So Tamina is his "main character," the character "raped" by children (Kundera's verb choice, not my own) and then left to drown in the "cold water." I personally liked Tamina's character, but I am baffled by the fantasy ending of her appearance. The island of children? The impossibility of escape (she swims all night and finds herself still off shore come break of day). What are we to make of the entire Island of Children sequence? I look forward to some of your comments regarding how this whole fantasy fits into the novel. Dan
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (23 of 105), Read 89 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 12:46 PM In the interview, Kundera makes it clear that the island of children is not a metaphor. I'm at a loss here. If it's not a metaphor, what possible meaning can we give it? Surely not a literal one, and if not literal, why this flight into fantasy? And how does fantasy function in this novel if not as metaphor? Ruth Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (24 of 105), Read 91 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 02:06 PM Perhaps we should recall the school of thought that holds the last person to ask about the meaning of a piece of literature is the author. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (25 of 105), Read 89 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 03:00 PM I thought Kundera said it wasn't an "allegory", Ruth. How would you define "allegory" as opposed to "metaphor?" Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (26 of 105), Read 93 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 04:29 PM Sherry, you caught me. I spoke without looking back at that interview. Does anyone know the difference between allegory and metaphor? Perhaps a metaphor is a thing and an allegory is a story? Ruth, who was 50 before she learned the difference between a metaphor and a simile Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (27 of 105), Read 94 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 05:04 PM An allegory is a work in which fictionalized characters stand for generalized human traits or values, with the entire tale designed to provide some instructive lesson to the reader. Perhaps Pilgrim's Progress would be a good example of allegory, although many, many works contain allegorical components. A metaphor is simply a figure of speech, typically substituting a facially dissimilar word or phrase for a more usual construction, all for the purpose of suggesting a comparison or analogy in more than usually colorful terms. Examples abound, including "Dying to meet you" and "Up to your ears in debt", to name two. I would guess Milan is telling us, if he really knows, that his book is not didactic in a moral sense, and perhaps that it is not meant for any general application to the human condition, but instead, focuses solely on his peculiar (not in the sense of odd) world view and experience. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (28 of 105), Read 98 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 06:30 PM Well I was sorta right on the allegory when I said it was a story. My understanding of a metaphor, though, is that it substitutes one thing for another. Such as "camels are the ships of the desert." (A simile being, "camels are like the ships of the desert.") But I could be wrong. Or perhaps my understanding of metaphor is too limited? Ruth, operating in a most unlawyerly/librarianly way, and not looking things up Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (29 of 105), Read 95 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 07:23 PM Ruth: For whatever it's worth, I think you're right with that particular example. I think we (at least I) frequently misuse metaphor by making too-expansive references with the term: "Moby Dick is a metaphor for sexual obsession" for example, when I probably really mean symbol. It's just that I hate using the word 'symbol', except in math, and have done ever since high school. Usually, everyone is kind and overlooks my error. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (30 of 105), Read 95 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 08:26 PM I went back to message #1 in this thread to re-read the interview, since another statement that Kundera made had stuck in my mind: " The basic event of the book is the story of totalitarianism, which deprives people of memory and thus retools them into a nation of children." Wasn't that a recurring theme throughout, the state's attempt to create a paradise where living was only in the present, unspoiled by memory? And the people who accept such a condition and live only for the enjoyments of the present---are they not like children? Do children have memory--and did Adam and Eve? David
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (31 of 105), Read 96 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 08:39 PM M.H. Abrams defines "allegory" as narrative fiction in which the agents and actions, and sometimes the setting as well, are contrived to make coherent sense on the "literal", or "primary" level of signification, and at the same time to signify a second, correlated order of agents, concepts, and events. He goes on to note that allegory can take the form of parables or fables. He defines "metaphor" as a word or expression which in literal usage denotes one kind of thing or action is applied to a distinctly different kind of thing or action, without asserting a comparison. Look at those two, Ruth--they are not that far apart in meaning. Both mean something on a literal level and yet signify something else. So what if Kundera notes the fantasy sequence isn't an allegory--no writer freely admits he deals in allegory because it is considered a base form of writing (note Abrams' use of the word 'contrived' in his definition of allegory--definitely a word most would not want associated with their blessed writings). Dostoyevsky uses the phrase "My God this is not allegory" throughout his novel The Possessed in order to force the reader to attend that his narration of events was not just a comment on a political situation. So what of Tamina's final scene? Why the fantasy? Kundera implies it is not "allegory," so we should (if we choose to listen to the author--we don't have to, we know)rule out simplistic interpretations such as "the children are the sexual innocence and the water is the cold political climate from which Tamina cannot escape" and such. Which, if you ask me, leaves us with nothing to do with the scene except wonder, "Why?" Dan
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (32 of 105), Read 95 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 08:58 PM David -- Your reading just seems so right to me. I see a tie to the part where the one emigrant the President of Forgetting could not bear to lose was the Idiot of Music. Bea
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (33 of 105), Read 102 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 09:19 PM There seem to be some other possible classical references here -- Tamina as opposed to Tamino or Pamina from Mozart's Die Zuberflote. Recall the role of the Magic Flute in protecting the lovers from all manner of hellfire and political damnation. Seems too close for comfort to me. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (34 of 105), Read 94 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 02:28 AM Ruth -- to go back to definition and differentiation of metaphor and simile -- YOU, Ruth, are the winner. This is the basic distillation of the two -- metaphor is substitution of the one for the other as in your camels are the ships of the desert and similes employ like or as to make a comparison relationship -- the sun was like flowing melted butter. We also threw in personification for good measure! THIS was one of my favorite sections in our poetry unit with Third Graders which I did for many years with one teacher and later with another teacher with whom I worked! The poems those children created were often big surprises and often the most surprising ones broke our hearts! But they always got simile and metaphor and once in a while at the end of sixth grade one of them would say I still remember simile and metaphor and then proceed to prove that they did indeed! The joys of teaching! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (35 of 105), Read 91 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 11:57 AM As I've thumbed through this one I've come across a number of names that aren't familiar to me; clearly Milan uses many historical names in the book and just as clearly some that are fictional. Whether this is allegorical, metaphorical or simply whimsical is up for grabs, but I did check out a few of them just to satisfy my curiosity. Thus, Novalis is a real poet: http://www.io.com/~smith/novalis/ And, I knew Lermontov was real, but knew nothing about him: http://inls.ucsd.edu/y/poems.html http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/8087/lermontovbio.html However, I can find no trace of Karel Klos. And the only web result for Masturbov is a rather enchanting porn site for 'Girls of the Czech Republic', which you can get in either English or Czech (the latter if you want to work on your foreign language skills: for example, I think I can now say 'non-dairy cool whip and applicator' in Czech). The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (36 of 105), Read 94 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 12:11 PM Masturbov didn't strike me as a real name at all, but as a commentary on the type of person. David
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (37 of 105), Read 98 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 12:22 PM Well, I wasn't exactly holding my breath for a Polituro member named Masturbov to pop up on the search screen, but you never know.... Incidentally, Tamina turns up a number of results, but the most interesting is her appearance on a list of Norwegian cat names: http://home.powertech.no/skogkatt/names.html So at last the symbolism/metaphor of the children's island becomes clear to me. After her owner dies she wanders off and gets lost, hunting for Squirrels and Canaries. Later, the kids were rubbing her tummy and she was purring. Then they put her in a metaphorical gunny-sack and tossed her into the ocean to drown. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (38 of 105), Read 97 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 05:09 PM Gee, Dick, thank you for that cheerful interpretation of Tamina's demise. I wondered if the poets in this book represented real Czech authors, each of whom had been given the name of a similar, but more famous counterpart (Petrarch, Boccaccio, etc). My guess is that Czech readers understood a lot of obscure references that go over our heads. The book we are reading has been translated twice. It was originally written in Czech and then translated into French. My copy was then translated from the French into English by Aaron Asher. What, if anything, do you suppose has been lost in the process? I have been thinking about Dan's comment about Kundera's inserting himself into the narrative and actually telling us what kind of book he is trying to write. These authorial intrusions are typical of Kundera's books. I know they are artificial, but my interest perked up whenever they occurred. I felt that the author was really talking to me now and I had better pay attention. How did the rest of you feel about them? I wasn't sure if the "I" really represented Kundera or yet another fictional character. Maybe we don't need to know. Just for the record though, his father was a musicologist The parts dealing with the father may have been based on Kundera's own life. I'm not sure Kundera entirely succeeds in his goal of creating a unified work, as he describes in "The Angels" (1), Section 8. For example, do you think the following is true? It is a novel about Tamina, and whenever Tamina goes offstage, it is a novel for Tamina. She is its principal character and its principal audience, and all the other stories are variations on her own story and meet with her life as in a mirror. Ann
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (39 of 105), Read 102 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 05:26 PM Well, the literal version of Tamina's demise wasn't all that cheerful either, so at least I was sustaining the mood. Actually, I'm waiting for WM to haul himself out of his lawn-chair on the sidelines there and deliver himself of one of his patented, and justifiably renowned, "gathering and unraveling of literary threads" notes. I'm afraid this all seems excessively cerebral to me, involuted and purposefully obscure. Rather like some of my least favorite French films, in which the script consists largely of pregnant pauses and meaningful silences, all viewed through drifting shrouds of cigarette smoke. The kind of movie that seizes your heart and soul at age 20 but leaves you stupefied and dozing at 50. But, I'll be candid. Beyond the obvious sardonic comments and witty asides, I don't get this book. Maybe it's like Faulkner: I just need another 40 years of seasoning to appreciate it. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (40 of 105), Read 99 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 01:43 AM Odd you should mention it, Richard. I am reclining in my lawn chair and chuckling as we speak. Every one of your observations is very well taken. Fact is that everyone's posts about this book have been thought provoking, to say the least. A great thread, what with the music discussion and all! But to the point. I respect that statement that you don't "get it." Hell, I don't get it either in the altogether. Never meant to mislead anyone that I had. Yet, there were lots of passages that really connected with me, albeit perhaps like some of those black and white French movies viewed through cigarette smoke. (I need not go into detail here about those images that were most particularly striking and why, lest we turn some CR's hair purple.) Moreover, I can see here that lot's of Kundera's stuff connected with you, too. Dick! Hello! This is big time artsy-craftsy stuff we're dealing with here. You don't HAVE to get it in the altogether. There's probably nothing to GET in the altogether. Maybe ya oughta loosen up more, y'ole bastard. Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (41 of 105), Read 97 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 09:34 AM Steve, don't be such a coward (or maybe you really have nothing to say - you're holding your tongue because there's nothing there and you don't want to admit it?) Ann, I agree, Kundera differs from Updike in that he is able to portray his female characters as human beings rather than paper dolls. So maybe that is why I appreciate him so much more than Updike. And Dick, my impression is that 20-year-olds usually go for films with more action. Those French films with lots of pauses would usually appeal to older viewers, wouldn't they? Theresa
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (42 of 105), Read 96 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 11:25 AM Now that's a fine thing. I endanger my immortal soul by sifting through dozens of pictures of naked female Czech Republicans, looking for clues on Masturbov, and the meaning of life and the book and everything and now Steve suggests that "maybe there's nothing to get"? Well I'm sorry. But as an American, when I buy a book advertised as the purest of intellectual brain-farts, I expect serious stuff to get. Piles of it. Heaps. Taller than than the tallest cotton, if you get my drift here. Some solidity, as it were. A heavy, red, dripping chunk of beefsteak as opposed to some thin-sliced nouveau scallop of veal. A massive Dodge Ram 2500 of a book, and not some limp-sprung Fiat or I suppose to make the comparison pure, some rusty Skoda. I am crushed. I open my heart to literature, and with what result? Some central European trickery? It is enough to make one reconsider the entire concept of reading. On the bright side however, I did get to see all those naked women. And no, Theresa, just as you so delicately imply, life past 50 is absolutely replete with lengthy pauses and silences. Paying $8 at the art house for more of them, with subtitles, is absolutely out of the question. By the way; have you noticed how exhausting it is to watch one of those low-dialogue movies with subtitles? You keep waiting and waiting for something to happen and be said, and the tension waiting for the next line of dialogue to scroll across the screen becomes unbearable. You're afraid that if you blink you may miss the entire plot? And even afterward, standing on the sidewalk outside the theater, you're not entirely convinced that you didn't blink and that maybe you really did miss the entire plot? Sort of like here? The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (43 of 105), Read 107 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 11:33 AM Theresa, Dick, Consigliere & All: So, I gather that you guys don't think there is even the faint possibility that Kundera was writing all of this stuff tongue-in-Czech? >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (44 of 105), Read 110 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 11:42 AM Dale: A definite possibility; curiously your suggestion dovetails precisely with some of the pictures I found on 'Girls of the Czech Republic'. I think we may finally be getting someplace with this book. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (45 of 105), Read 108 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 12:32 PM Punning aside, I think Dale's on to something there--as I said earlier, I do think Kundera is writing "tongue in Czech" quite often, even during the auto-narrative bits. For him as writer, everyone and everything is up for laughs--characters, personal anecdotes, novel techniques, and reader expectations. Note in the Roth interview Kundera's fondness for Tristram Shandy , Laurence Sterne's novel about how stupid some things in novels are. In one scene, a character in Tristram Shandy throws himself onto a bed in a display of emotional anguish. The narrator shifts to another subject for a while. When he returns to the "anguished" character on the bed, the character is "bored" now in this pose awaiting the author's return and has begun tapping one foot on the floor playfully, awaiting something new to happen. Sterne's novel is full of humor like that, and I find a similarity between it and Kundera's work in technique mainly. There's Kundera's "I'll make a character now and name her Tamina and place her..." speech in one section as well as that line I quoted earlier about "By the way, notice the guy driving the car is named Raphael..." quip. The poet section is also funny, in the sense that here are these stuffy poets around a table and the most critical statement about another poet is he "doesn't get enough ass." Is this a pantheon of poets or cadre of boors kicking back some brew? Notice the whole poetry discussion is largely filtered through the senses of the student, who is in awe of Goethe and company. By using the names of famous and legendary poets, Kundera creates a surreal tableaux that is hilarious as much as it is confusing. Dick: What does "Tamina" being a cat's name in Norway have to do with a novel set in Czechslovakia and written in France? Could you, in your internet expertise, find out what the root word that "Tamina" springs from? Actually, I like the reference made earlier about its connection to Mozart's Magic Flute, , since that opera and this novel also have some similarities. Dan
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (46 of 105), Read 107 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 01:05 PM In The Magic Flute, Tamino is the hero. He is sent on a quest by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter, Pamina, from the clutches of Sarastro, a king and leader of a priesthood that closely resembles the Freemasons. There is a big switcharoo and it turns out that the Queen is the villain of the piece. Tamino and Pamina are entirely noble and good. Don't know what this has to do with TBOLAF except that the opera was a big hit in Prague. The Czechs always appreciated Mozart more than the Viennese, during his lifetime anyway. Bea
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (47 of 105), Read 110 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 02:51 PM I think I'm satisfied not to "get" this book. For me, it suffices to have it be a series of loosely linked episodes, some of which have left me thinking. Ruth, who promises to speak to the resident Norwegian about Tamina Cats Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (48 of 105), Read 97 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 05:07 PM I agree, Ruth. This book doesn't work all the time, but there are some wonderful pieces. That's good enough for me. Dick, in my opinion, Kundera's THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING is a much better book. Kundera uses a lot of the same stylistic tricks in that one, but he seems to have more meaningful things to say. Maybe you should try that one and see if you dislike it as well. :) Ann
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (49 of 105), Read 88 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 05:35 PM Ann: This is probably hard to believe, but I don't really dislike this book; I just don't get it. Believe me. When I dislike a book, there is no mistaking the reaction. But will re acquaint myself with TULOB, which I believe I read some time back and recall very little about. Or maybe I blinked during the subtitles in the movie version and awakened imagining having read it. Anything is possible at this stage of my particular ballgame. Dan'l: No idea what Norwegian cats have to do with drowned Czech heroines. I would note, though, that the website in question has to do with Norwegian cat names, and not necessarily Norwegian cats. A thin distinction but one that perhaps can be illumined by Leif the resident Norwegian (in fact Leif ought duck over to that 'Girls of the Czech Republic' and see if he recognizes any former patients. Purely professional visit, of course.) The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (50 of 105), Read 87 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Diane Freeman (dfreeman@jeffco.k12.co.us) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 07:57 PM I am jumping into the discussion late and with what may be a silly remark. I am actually a Kundera fan but was not actually going to re-read this selection until Jane shamed me into it. OK, so here I am pointing out that the quote in post #11 of Petrarch's response that "Love can't be laughable. Love has nothing in common with laughter" made me wake up to the fact that one of Kundera's early works was entitled "Laughable Loves." It is described on the back cover as "seven dazzling stories of sexual comedy." It seems fairly consistent in his work that men are energetic but unhappy womanizers. I agree that The Unbearable Lightness of Being was a much finer book, and "The Joke" (written before he moved to France, I believe) is a more straightforward poke at the government. Unfortunately, in this re-reading, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting suffered from my initial exposure. I wonder if it isn't something comparable to the earlier comment about what we can enjoy at what age. I think I used to like being mystified by works that seemed barely comprehensible (I loved Richard Brautigan for years, and Ferlinghetti is still a favorite) but now I'm just frustrated or dissatisfied. However, I do like those foreign films with little dialogue. I don't mind reading a movie, but I can't speed read one through the smoke filter! Diane, rambling as usual
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (51 of 105), Read 90 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 08:47 PM Diane, It is amazing that we have been so busy that we haven't seen each other for a couple of weeks, so I am replying here. (For those who don't know, Diane and I work together.) I found your comment very interesting. It seems as if you have read several of Kundera's works and are able to do some comparing. This is the first Kundera that I have read, and it may be the last. I am happy that I read this book because of this discussion, but I probably won't read another of Kundera's books unless one ends up on one of our official reading lists. Jane
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (52 of 105), Read 111 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Mary Anne Papale (mapreads@aol.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 09:24 PM All, I have been lurking on this wonderful discussion because I was too busy to re-read this book. But I read it and several other of Kundera's books years ago. And Diane is quite right: there is an inter-connected quality to his books. For example, the erasure of Zdena is more about the "lightness of being", and what it means to be considered so inconsequential as to be almost non-existent. I do think that Kundera is one author whose work improves by re-reading or reading his other stuff. At least that made me feel like I got it. MAP
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (53 of 105), Read 90 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jim Heath (ddrapes@teleport.com) Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 11:05 PM I was shocked to read Dale's "tongue in czech" remark. One can only hope this doesn't lead to a degeneration of this discussion to the point where we are considering the Prague abortionist who produced a lot of cancelled Czechs.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (54 of 105), Read 92 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 12:07 AM I agree that Kundera's books gain from being read en masse (and re-read, although I know a few of you will doubt this.) I prefer Laughter and Forgetting to Unbearable Lightness of Being - I think Laughter is the more complicated book. And, yes Dale, I do think Kundera is tongue in cheek, even when he's being serious at the same time. He just can't help himself - didn't I tell y'all he's a rogue? I thought of Laughable Loves too when reading this book, and mentioned it lo these several posts ago. I think The Magic Flute is exactly the right connection, Beatrice. Remember, the Communists started out as the heroes, inviting everyone to partake equally in the circle dance, and ended up the villains, just as in Tamina's life? Tamina is a combination of the names of the heroes of Magic Flute - by Jove, I think you've got it! (The origin of Tamina's name, that is.) Dick, we must know different 20-year-olds. Those I've come across want to watch action flics, not pauses and silences. Theresa
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (55 of 105), Read 92 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 12:15 AM OMIGAAAAAAAAAWD, Jim. Ruth Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (56 of 105), Read 88 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 09:27 AM Theresa and others: You really pulled this Magic Flute connection together for me. I think that we have found the source for Tamina's name and in the process a means to better understand Kundera's technique. I have read the short story collection Laughable Loves , and I don't remember being too enamored of it. I was wondering: The orgy scene at the end of the novel--is it just me, or did that entire scene seem gratuitous? Maybe it was supposed to bring together the ideas of laughter and sexuality in a culminating scene, but I feel it was rather weak artistically. Dan
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (57 of 105), Read 89 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 09:31 AM One way to think about the problem is to consider this: where in literature can we find an artistically strong orgy scene? The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (58 of 105), Read 85 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 10:17 AM Dan, Communist sanctioned literature is very prudish. The orgy scene took me by surprise. Maybe Kundera was reveling in his new found freedom to express himself any way he chose once he had emigrated. Actually, I think he just likes to talk about sex, although it seldom satisfies his characters or makes them happy. Ann
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (59 of 105), Read 94 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 11:15 AM Theresa: You speak of differences between the 20-year olds you know and that I know. However, I know no 20 year-olds, except in the unhappy circumstance when one of the little dears has been maimed or mutilated in some horrible accident (not including tattooing or piercing incidents) and therefore seeks my professional services. I speak only of the ancient 20 year-olds; the ones of legend and of myth and who now live only in memory. And maybe, only my memory. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (60 of 105), Read 81 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 07:47 AM Some of you questioned the point of the orgy scene and Ann speculated that maybe Kundera just likes to write about sex, since it had been such a taboo in Czechoslovakia. Sex is just about the most personal subject I can imagine. It could also be the place in one's life where you are free and joyous. Yet here, in a "party" where you're supposed to be having fun, there's this hostess from hell who's orchestrating people having sex as if she were Vince Lombardi and this was the first Super Bowl. If people allow the most intimate part of their lives to be controlled in this manner, aren't they going to be really susceptible to the state that comes along in the name of perfection and tells them how to live and what to do? I think the orgy scene is a statement about people being so willing to be fodder for totalitarianism. Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (61 of 105), Read 84 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 10:15 AM That's a very interesting perspective, Sherry. My impression was that this chapter took place in Western Europe rather than the totalitarian Czechoslovakia. However, I think that there is a herd instinct in human nature that can help explain subjection both to a political dictator, and a sexual one. Ann
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (62 of 105), Read 82 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 11:06 AM Sherry: Very interesting question. On a related note...back in the old days when CRs were trying online to decide whether to attempt a face-to-face meeting, I think much of the initial hesitation paralleled my own. I'm somewhat reserved, basically a loner and a hermit who fears social situations, and independent-minded enough that it chaps my hide to have somebody telling me what to do. I have never been a joiner because, in my past experience, every group had one self-appointed social director from hell who lived to work his/her will on a group of people, sort of like the border collies that herd sheep: "Oh, you MUST come with us!" "Oh, you CAN'T go there, go HERE..." "You can't leave yet, the party's just getting started!" Thankfully, CR is the first group in my life that does not have a social director from hell. At CR reunions both large and mini-, it's live and let live, with everybody free to go or stay on whim. Long may it live! >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (63 of 105), Read 82 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 11:19 AM Ann, I have forgotten where the orgy took place, but it certainly makes sense that it didn't happen in Czechoslovakia. But I don't think that matters. Maybe Kundera was commenting on how people allow totalitarianism to take place in any venue, whether it's political or social or sexual. And that in any case, it's not a satisfying way to live. Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (64 of 105), Read 86 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 11:21 AM Sherry, that's a brilliant idea. I very much disliked not only the orgy but the Tamina-on-the-Children's Island section. Your explanation could be extended to cover that, too. People who let themselves be bossed around by children (who are notoriously cruel, self-centered and without consciousness of the results of their actions) are in serious trouble. Ruth Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (65 of 105), Read 82 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 02:01 PM I'm blushing Ruth. Thanks. I was bothered by the children on the island chapter, too, at first, but it does make sense in the context of the theme of totalitarianism. It's not just that children are cruel, it's that the perfect society made it necessary for the citizens to be children to survive in the system. And then once they were children, they acted like them. In the children chapter, Tamina was seduced at first, coddled and cared for by them. She sank into an easy sexuality, because it was the way for her to survive and be a part of the society. But because she was an adult, with an advanced sensibility it wasn't enough to satisfy her. She wanted to get out, and they destroyed her for her desire to overstep the status quo. She swam and swam (haven't you all had dreams where you are running and running and never get there?) to try to "go back" but there was no "back" to go to. She was sucked in, swallowed. Sounds like what happens to a lot of dissidents. Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (66 of 105), Read 91 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 03:04 PM Sherry: Thank you so very much. I like your interpretation of that puzzling orgy scene. And the one act the "director from hell" cannot tolerate is laughing, the risible residue of revelry. The two guys get kicked out of the club--out of the circle, in Kundera's symbolic scheme--because they enjoyed themselves too much. Dick: I'm not sure--an artistically strong orgy scene? When I come across one, I'll let you know. Dan
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (67 of 105), Read 86 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 05:59 PM The ideal of Communism is: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. It really does assume that the citizens are children, unable to fend for themselves, doesn't it? Sherry, I like your interpretation of the orgy a lot. I think it is also true that Kundera is obviously aiming for some sexual titillation in the orgy scene, as well as the menage a trois scene at the beginning, and even in describing the sexual play of those oh so naughty children. Ann
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (68 of 105), Read 89 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 07:17 PM Oh, I agree, Ann. There could have been lots of other scenarios (besides sexy ones) where he could have made his point. But I think we wouldn't have paid attention quite so intently. Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (69 of 105), Read 98 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 07:31 PM Yeah, sex does have a way of grabbing our attention, doesn't it? Ruth Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (70 of 105), Read 92 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, October 24, 1999 08:22 PM Sherry, Thanks for that note about the orgy. It helped me to understand this novel better. I still don't like it very much, but I am glad that I read it. Jane
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (71 of 105), Read 83 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 12:40 AM There are sure to be some good orgies in Thorne Smith's works. But Smith is so funny, I may have forgotten if there was some intellectual climax included in all the others. But, if anyone has NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS, read it and enjoy; there is assuredly something intellectual those gods and goddesses were including in their frolics. EDD
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (72 of 105), Read 40 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 09:20 AM Daniel, I just wanted to let you know that I picked up In the Memory of the Forest by Charles T. Powers, primarily because of remarks about it by Barbara Moors and you. It is an enjoyable read and a helluva novel considering it is his first. Thanks for tipping me off. Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (73 of 105), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 10:50 AM Any time, Steve--or should it be "Wild Man?" Dan
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (74 of 105), Read 46 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 01:09 PM I answer to either, Daniel. In fact I think I am going back to "Steve" for the foreseeable future. I fear the sobriquet leads newcomers to the conclusion that I am something other than the innocuous, nondescript soul that I really am. Steve
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (75 of 105), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 03:09 PM But, Steve, 'encourageables' that we are -- you may have to forgive us if that Wild Man slips into print here at times -- though we shall just as happily call you Steve! Just glad to see you around again! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (76 of 105), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sash@oxmol.co.uk) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 04:43 AM Re Steve or Wild Man, Steve writes "I fear the sobriquet leads newcomers to the conclusion that I am something other than the innocuous, nondescript soul that I really am." Never! But where did the Wild Man tag come from? Sheila
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (77 of 105), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 06:38 AM I wish I could answer that question, Sheila, but I cannot. The origins of that nickname are lost in the misty, misty past. Admittedly, I was quite lunatic when I first joined this group six years ago, so much so that some of the original stalwarts apparently viewed my determination to join them for the first CR get-together in San Francisco with some trepidation. It may have been Dale or Thom or Allen Crocker or Sara Sauers or the long lost Latin Bombshell, Maria, who first uttered the phrase. I just don't remember. The strange thing is that the nickname is extant among my few friends here at home, too, none of whom know any Constant Readers or even understand this place exists. It is an odd coincidence. But enough about me. Let's talk about what you think of me for awhile. Steve
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (78 of 105), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 06:59 AM What I want to know is, how did all this get tucked into the Kundera thread? Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (79 of 105), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 07:49 AM Because, Sherry, way, way back up there in this thread somewhere, Daniel mentioned In the Memory of the Forest, which is set in Poland. Steve
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (80 of 105), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 07:55 AM To the Artist Formerly Known As Wild Man: I have a pretty clear recollection (I think) of the inimitable Maria Bustillos first applying this moniker to you in a board discussion. It did, though, catch on like Wild Fire. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (81 of 105), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 08:00 AM Thank you, Dale. That rings a bell. In defense of my own memory, I did list her as one of the usual suspects. Steve
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (82 of 105), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sash@oxmol.co.uk) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 08:26 AM Steve, You've now got me worrying about what sort of tag name you are all going to give me at the next convention! Sheila
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (83 of 105), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 08:39 AM Sherry, I feel constrained to return once more to your last question, alarming as it is to me. You really seem to have developed difficulty recently in tracking well: laboring under the illusion that Junot Diaz is a woman; requiring that notes posted here be broken up into innumerable paragraphs so that you can better follow them; failing to discern how this recent exchange here flows so naturally from the discussion of Milan Kundera and indeed is so obviously part and parcel of it, just to describe some of the more troubling examples of things I have observed. All this is colored by mood swings coupled with a recent compulsive use of animation. Honey, are you all right? Do you find that you are lying to yourself and others about the extent of your drinking? Do you drink to relieve the hangovers (hair of the dog and all)? Are you hiding bottles around the house? Have you suffered blackouts? How is Tom holding up through this? Are the children okay? Is our reading list safe? We all love you so much, baby, and who better to take this up with you than one of your best and most trusted friends? I know that the resolve to do something must come from within you yourself, but if there is anything. . . .anything I can do, please, please call on me. Steve
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (84 of 105), Read 43 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 09:21 AM It's SO good to have such concerned fiends, er, friends. Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (85 of 105), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 10:17 AM Sherry, of course I was prepared for this sarcasm, this rage, and this complete denial. Attack me if you must, but I know you don't mean the things you say to me now. This has nothing to do with moral turpitude, honey. It's a disease, probably genetic. I fear that it will only be when you bottom out that you will be able to make the really big changes that are so obviously necessary. I noticed aberrations in your conduct after the first of those CR slumber parties. Presley bears some responsibility for this, but I admit that I laughed and joked about it right along with the others, and I feel so badly about that now. It was denial on my part, too. Then there was your self-destructive insistence on continuing to use a Macintosh in the face of overwhelming evidence of your own degradation as a result. Recently, it has progressed (it's a progressive condition) with the tantrum about folks replying only to the last note in the thread regardless of the addressee followed not a minute or two later with your irrational elation over the cartoon thingies. Just know that when you do bottom out, those of us who love you will be right up here on the high ground ever ready to reach down to you, awash in the viscous, noisome muck and mire that gurgles through the gutters of Milwaukee. ["Your hair! Sherry, what has happened to your beautiful hair? It's the little things that break my heart the most!"] Once we get you in lock-down, we can always shower at the local Y, burn the clothes we came in, and powder ourselves right away with that insecticide stuff. Anyway, I would be willing to do that for you, baby. I know Hanser would, too. You were very kind to us in the old days when your body was younger and could better withstand the punishment that you inflict on it. You know something? Charles T. Powers' In the Memory of the Forest includes a very excellent portrayal of your affliction that you might be interested in. Insight is always so important. Sherry, focus for a minute now. Is the reading list in a safe place? Does Tom know where it is? Steve
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (86 of 105), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 10:39 AM Here I am sitting at my computer, and I'm supposed to be working but I can't because I am laughing so hard, and I have a very mean boss. And I have to pack and I have to do laundry and such and here you are (you, who claims to have so much work to do) penning posts that are just breaking me up! All I can say is Help me before I animate again! Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (87 of 105), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 11:05 AM Now the hysteria. I was prepared for that, too. Your last reminded me of your forthcoming trip to Irving, Texas, and the inevitable ensuing debauch with Presley. Do you know anybody else in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who might be able to look after you and help you if things degenerate badly down there? I mean, we all know the shape Presley herself will be in. She will be of absolutely no help to you, Sherry! Is Jerry at all reliable? Do Tom and the children know you are going down there? You might consider taking along a copy of In the Memory of the Forest. I have always placed a priority on my concern for you over my work. You know that, honey. About the reading list. . . . . . ? Steve
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (88 of 105), Read 15 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 11:39 AM The only solution I can see for the problem, is for you and Sara to oversee this reunion. It's the only way. Otherwise, who knows what will happen--Jerry won't be able to handle the pressure by himself. Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (89 of 105), Read 19 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 11:44 AM Say goodnight, Gracie. I'm spitting coffee into the keyboard. Ruth Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (90 of 105), Read 18 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 11:48 AM Good Night, George. Gracie
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (91 of 105), Read 11 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Tonya Presley (tpresley@swbell.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 11:51 AM Wild Man, If my memory has not been completely pickled during my inevitable decline, you acquired the moniker sometime during the whirlwind tour you made into Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, etc. between the S.F. and N.O. conventions.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (92 of 105), Read 10 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 11:53 AM Gracie, do my eyes deceive me, or have you taken on certain aspects of Groucho Marx? Ruth Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera (93 of 105), Read 9 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 11:59 AM Ruth: I was thinking of Groucho crossed with a Cheshire Cat... >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (94 of 105), Read 67 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 09:59 AM PRES
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (95 of 105), Read 71 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 10:08 AM Possibly the most incisive response to the 'orgy in literature' issue I've ever seen: Open-mouthed silence. The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (96 of 105), Read 71 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 11:47 AM Dick -- Maybe I'm not widely enough read -- can't recall any orgies in those volumes! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (97 of 105), Read 70 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 02:32 PM Yes, Pres? You were saying, Pres???? Pres?????????? Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (98 of 105), Read 73 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 03:29 PM Let's see now - Orgie-Porgie, Puddin' and Pie, Kissed the girls and made them cry. Perhaps the root-source of those cruel children in TBOLAF? PRES, who thinks somebody should write a book about a Senior Orgy. Experience is all.
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (99 of 105), Read 72 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 04:38 PM Pres: Books about Senior Orgies are called 'short stories'.... The Chilblained Lawyer
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (100 of 105), Read 74 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 04:47 PM Steve, did you see the notes on TBOL&F that were stringing out to beyond the edge of the margin? We were having a lively discussion of the orgy scene, and then Pres came up with the idea of starting a Part II to bring the new messages back to the left of the margin. I wonder, though, if the older new messages can be easily missed (the last ones at the end of the old thread, I mean). Am I making any sense at all? Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (101 of 105), Read 72 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 04:56 PM Sherry - I know you weren't asking me but I do think we'll miss old notes if we put the new topic as a subheading of the main heading. I think we need to start a totally new topic under the main heading, in this case "Reading List Books"." Also, the new topic title is so long in this case that, at least on my screen, you can't really tell that it's different than the old topic. Bea
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (102 of 105), Read 73 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 05:49 PM Sherry, all I can tell you is that I have not missed a thing in connection with the lively orgy discussion. Were you really fearful that I would? Perhaps some neophyte might miss the lively orgy discussion but not me. Never. I did rather enjoy Pres's--shall we say-- terse note over here and could not help replying. Wild Man
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (103 of 105), Read 72 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 07:59 PM Just making sure, WM. Wanted to see how Pres' new system was working. Sherry
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (104 of 105), Read 74 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 11:05 PM If we start Part 2 as a new thread directly under Reading List Books, and label it clearly, I should think that would do it. Ruth Books are cheaper than wallpaper
Topic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - ORGY Division (105 of 105), Read 67 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (warbasse@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 09:46 AM Oh, and Sherry, lest I forget, I too think your interpretation of the significance of the orgy scene was brilliant. It really is about people ceding control of very important parts of their lives to others. I had not thought of this until you advanced the idea. Wild Man

 

 
Kundera
Milan Kundera

 
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