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Jul 15, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

dude I'm slowly making my way through these quotes...feels like eating a big plate of nachos for my brain.

on the idea of camaraderie, have you read stuff by Alfred Adler? I've not directly but via this book "The Courage to be Disliked" which is essentially a distillation of Adler, and a big thing he covers is understanding that other people are our comrades, not our competition. U might dig it

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Jul 15, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

I’m about to go on a bit and am not sure I’ll be convincing: forgive if you read on: I have ten books by Kundera on my favored book shelf above the desk where I write. Many of them are highlighted but the most highlights are in _Testaments Betrayed_. I once wrote a bunch of quotes I entitled β€œWhat Is Art”. Most quotes are from Kundera and William Gass.

I’ve been most disturbed by the assertion by some of Kundera’s misogyny. To view Kundera through that lens is not to understand what art is.

Your longer quote on β€œWhat the novel teaches us about morality” and that I quoted a portion ofβ€”was it yesterday or the day before?β€” disputes any such conclusion, e.g., misogyny. If we understand what art is, then no such conclusion can be made.

Here are Kundera and Gass to help me:

Kundera: β€œBut the conformism of public opinion is a force that sets itself up as a tribunal, and the tribunal is not there to waste time over ideas, it is there to conduct the investigations for trials.”

Gass: β€œWhy are works of art so socially important? Not for the messages they may contain, not because they expose slavery or cry hurrah for the worker, although such messages in their place and time might be important, but because they insist more than most on their reality; because of the absolute way in which they exist. ... So I don’t think that it’s the message of a work of art that gives it any lasting social value. On the contrary, insisting on this replaces the work with its interpretation, another way of robbing it of its reality. … Works of art are meant to be lived with and loved, and if we try to understand them, we should try to understand them as we try to understand anyoneβ€”in order to know them (italics on β€œthem”) better, not in order to know something else.”

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Jul 15, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Thank you for this. I'd pretty much forgotten about Kundera until his death -- though I did use my favourite part of Immortality--Avenarius systematically slashing car tires in Paris at night--in a post a few months back.

Paris has been in mourning. There's been some great press tributes and radio panels about him. In one of the latter, on France Inter a couple of days ago, I learned that the Czech police had tracked his movements right through the 80s, a decade after his exile in France, and that during the last years of his life he only spoke Czech and wasn't sure what country he belonged to, other than the "la patrie de Vera" (his wife) and "la patrie du roman" (the novel). To your list I'd add L'Ignorance, one of the novels he wrote in French. And Life is Elsewhere. And...

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I love that detail / story, about the tires; I think of Avenarius all the time: playing the world like a child with no friends!

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Jul 15, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Alright, you sold me. Was on the way to the library with my daughter for the afternoon. Going to pick up Immortality.

I’ve been a bit drained from all the screen time lately and needed something printed. This feels like the perfect fit. Never heard of Kundera but, damn, some of these quotes.

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Sep 14, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

I love your post and I love the quote you chose for the title.

I think I will use it as well for the review I am planning to write on De Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom.

I like Kundera, but to me, Kafka is the one with the gut-wrenching power.

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I think Kundera himself would've ratified that ranking! His writing on Kafka is some of his best, IMO, particularly his essay on how Kafka tends to be translated in "Testaments Betrayed." He shows a lot of examples of positively florid translations of extremely, lyrically simple sentences Kafka wrote, and it's pretty appalling!

Thank you very much for the kind words!!!

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Could I ask you for a personal favour?

I wrote a rather ambitious proposal for Hamish/Chris/Jairaj.

It is already up on the site in my drafts.

I don't want to post it yet, but I would greatly appreciate your opinion on it.

If it gets anywhere, you would have to deal with anyway.

where can I send the private link?

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Jul 30, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Thank you so much for this collection of passages. Kundera was the first truly philosophical novelist I encountered, at the (relatively late?) age of sixteen. I'm excited by him again, decades later. Perhaps dangerously - he might have been responsible for sending me off the rails a little, or at least spinning me round to totter off into the arms of Nietzsche. I'd forgotten his ascerbic edges - he seemed much softer to me as an immature, and perhaps less inhibited reader.

And I enjoyed your clarification that it was one of Kundera's *characters* declaring a commitment to hedonism. It makes me wonder how completely divorced we are from even our worst literary children.

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Jul 16, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

When I read about his death my first thought was: β€œI wonder what Mills’ll post?”

I haven’t read any Kundera in 10+ years but I’m feeling like these quotes are a way back in. Testaments Betrayed was extremely helpful to me in my early twenties, as someone who’d read a lot of good novels but almost zero criticism.

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Same! Maybe I should’ve said: he taught me criticism. It’s related, anyway; real, skeptical attention paid to self or to work.

I almost didn’t post about it. It’s one of those things where I could never β€œdo it justice,” whatever that would mean, so I had to just relax and be casual as a way through lol. TB is the shit!!!

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Jul 16, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Man, that character quote about sleeping with the beauty is almost too perfectly attuned to the social media age. β€œClimb a mountain, tell no one” just slightly rephrased as β€œBang a 10, tell no one.”

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Jul 16, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Just pulled Immortality off the shelf, will bring it on holidays tomorrow.

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Jul 15, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

For Nietzsche loves β€œa bold and exuberant intellectuality that runs presto,” and he makes fun of the savants.

I pity the SAVANTS. That said. I digg spiritual fiction aka the Philosphical novel. And even tho I write gritty black pulp fiction, at heart, its jes based on the spiritual of hoodoo I was raised in Louisiana/Mississippi. Gittin it out da MUD and tryna elevate it a lil skeetaste.

Tons of take-a-ways in this piece. I appreciated this drop.

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Thank you!!! You aren’t going to believe this, but I and another Substack employee were just talking about how good your Notes are / how they don’t get enough distribution! I couldn’t believe it when I saw this notification; what a small world!

I’m from New Orleans and I couldn’t agree more. Kundera remarks a few times on how β€œsmall nations” are just really culturally and philosophically different from β€œlarge nations”; he was Czech and his spirit was different from an American’s or a Russian’s; his country wasn’t a centuries-spanning empire; his people perched on the edge of the abyss, had to make meaning however they could. And you hear that about (1) New Orleans / the Gulf Coast generally, with the hurricanes for example, and (2) black people in America / the South specifically. I always loved the idea that the β€œsmall” or β€œnon-dominant” scenes and communities around the world all share some things that the big scenes can’t hope to achieve.

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Jul 15, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

I B dam. Thats truly interesting. Butt Im glad yall peeped a lil sumpen in it. Feels like Im speaking into a VOID. Just got on Substack. And really dont know what to expect over here. Dont know the RULES of SPEECH yet since im generally on the side of saying sum shit U aint sposed 2 say. Guess we will see. Meanwhile, I peeped dat MILAN had passed and it struck me cuz his UNBEARABLE was the Book that hipped me to him....And U R One hunnit on the Non-Fiction too. Lotta peeps pass over that. Butt he had Words for da head on both sides. Fiction n Non-Fiction. Brotha KUNDERA's work often reminds me--in a different yet similar way--of that otha Czech: BOUHAMIL HRABAL (worth a read). ... KEEP SLANGIN em mayne.

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Jul 15, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Damn, brother-- this is really interesting. I’ve saved it so I can dig into it further, and downloaded the Testaments book.

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Jul 15, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

You're remembering too much... :)

(I have a full Kundera shelve... and I'm from Eastern Europe too)

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Apr 27Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Oh I love Kundera so much and you posted some of his best quotes πŸ–€

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Mar 25Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

I have not heard of Kundera and I enjoy philosophy. This quote struck me

"When we study, discuss, analyze a reality, we analyze it as it appears in our mind, in our memory. We know reality only in the past tense. We do not know it as it is in the present, in the moment when it’s happening, when it is. The present moment is unlike the memory of it. Remembering is not the negative of forgetting. Remembering is a form of forgetting."

It is a reason why I have this tendency to disbelieve what I recall. Our brains tend to filter out so much information that we can never really trust ourselves to remember what it is we wanted to remember. Also we are biased in whatever situation we are in so our memory will definitely be different to those who we shared the memory with. Perhaps when our entire being gets loaded into something more able to handle the data and load can we really experience memory as it is, but until then, I remain a memory skeptic.

Also why I do agree with the 'fog' in relation to history, I would like to point out that one should always be wary of it. For like my previous statement who can absolutely tell with certainty the history when even those that write it or those we reference it might be, without meaning to be, biased. I mean, if we can't trust our own memory, can we really trust those whose memories are written? But I can go on and on rambling.

Also on a different note, I can't help but smile with regards to the quotes on secrets. :)

This is a profound piece. Thank you for sharing it.

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Mar 19Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

"From him, I learned to be suspicious of my tendency towards sentimental self-expansion, a crucial lesson for someone with my personality. When I β€œlove” something, I am often projecting myself onto it, associating myself with its qualities, deluding myself about who I am and why I think what I think. When I β€œidentify” with something, I am often fleeing from the reality of my identity-less-ness, like every generation before me that disappeared into its mass movements or affiliations or scenes β€”the names of which are now not only forgotten but, when remembered, ridiculousβ€” and the othering they usually engender. When I β€œreason,” I am often merely rationalizing feelings, or perhaps something deeper than feelings: patterns of inertia, archetypes and other forms from the past, animal instincts. When I β€œbelieve,” I do not choose to do so: so to be proud of my beliefs is as to be proud of my eye color; and indeed, often I seem to β€œbelieve” things that permit the behavior I prefer to engage in or the feelings I want: what happy chance!"

Like Alex Dobrenko says here β€” this felt like a big plate of nachos for my brain as well. With extra cheese and jalapeΓ±os. 🀯

This enters a different layer of existentialism and meta self-awareness that I'm still trying to wrap my head around....

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Jan 15Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

"Kafka went into the dark depths of the joke" - he was one of the few he understood what Franz was really doing.

I always wanted to meet him, despite the scowl.

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Wow, first off: hello, your posts are amazing! And yes: Kundera saved me from an incredibly common set of misinterpretations of Kafka that I’m probably not a good enough reader / thinker to have seen through on my own, even if I wound up slightly crankish in my undergrad contexts at the time, always fuming about people not understanding him etc.!

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Nov 29, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Okay okay okay wow. This was amazing. I loved your intro reflecting on what Kundera taught you. I think for me -- and I'm like you in that I see myself in Kundera (and now in you!) at the same time as I feel his influence pressing me towards the dissipation of that urge -- what I got from Kundera was a sense of spacious self-permissiveness. I really benefitted from that, which I feel one can get purely from reading him and observing how he permits himself to go on.

Nobody posted my favourite Kundera quote yet though! It is this:

β€œPeople are always shouting they want to create a better future. It's not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.”

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Oh my god!!! What a comment, and what a quote; I find it persuasive, too: the universal affection for β€œthe future” leaves me cold and even bitter: why the hell should I feel solicitude for non-existent people who, when they do exist, will likely have every advantage over my generation, every superiority?! Stronger, smarter, safer, longer-living?! I’m sure they’ll entertain themselves reflecting on what animals we are, how stupid everything we believe in is. They can all get bent, although I wish them the best of luck of course.

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10000% agreed -- as we would laugh at the ancient romans worrying about our wellbeing and wanting to shape our society and our experience while they own slaves and watch people die in circuses for fun, so too I am sure our descendents will laugh at us, if and when they ever think of us at all. Concern with the future is mostly a transparent attempt to fix the traumas of our own past without having to admit that we have any traumas or want to fix anything. So I guess this constitutes a kind of projection, except instead of projecting our emotions from ourselves onto others, we project our concerns and fears about the past onto the future.

Also "They can all get bent, although I wish them the best of luck of course" is such a mood.

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Sep 8, 2023Liked by Mills, 𝔄𝔯𝔠π”₯𝔒𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔒𝔰𝔰 𝔬𝔣 π”’π”Ÿπ”©π”žπ”©π”¦π”ž

Glad to meet a fellow Kundera reader. What you said about his covers is also true. Been reading this post since yesterday. It's beautiful.

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