Friday, July 1, 2011

Existence and awareness

Hi friends, it's Justin.

In Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Sabina, a young Czech woman, was enlisted in national construction works.  She was interested in neither the communal sentiment nor the projects.

Sabina hated the fact that  while the workers labored, music blared all day long over loudspeakers.  She avoided parades and marches--held on Sundays--though students like herself had been required to attend.  On May Day, she hid in the lavatory until officials stopped looking for stragglers, and then spent time alone.

One Sunday, she borrowed a motorcycle and rode it to the hills, where she came across a church, which happened to be holding mass.  "Religion was persecuted by the regime, and most people gave the church a wide berth," Kundera writes.

Sabina is not terribly religious, but she is struck by several aspects of the mass, including: the attendants (most are old and unafraid of the regime), the "music of the words" of the litany, and the "blue vault dotted with large gold stars."

 Image source:

"The mass was beautiful because it appeared to her in a sudden, mysterious revelation as a world betrayed.

"From that time on she had known that beauty is a world betrayed.  The only way we can encounter it is if its persecutors have overlooked it somewhere" (Kundera 110).

I can't help but think that our voices go largely overlooked.  Sometimes it feels strange but lovely to exist in a gay subculture (for certainly there is one, but there are also many).  In some ways, as a previous blogger wrote, it feels like a bit of a privilege--to be gay.  After all, only those who find themselves in "worlds betrayed" see the "blue vault dotted with large gold stars."

But the story also seems to suggest that these "worlds betrayed" exist somewhere outside of our own immediate awareness, perhaps far beyond ourselves and our own experiences.

Work Cited:

Kundera, Milan.  The Unbearable Lightness of Being. New York: Harper Perennial, 1984. Print. 

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