Friday, 26 February 2010


OK, so this weeks directed reading referred to the Kundera chapter on Broch's trilogy of novels The Sleepwalkers. I've read this passage three times now and am still struggling to draw a coherent thread together. Firstly I'm going to summarise what I think I understand. I needed a dictionary on page 1 - ontological: a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of being. Right, so the discourse is about perspective and composition. Salvador Dali's painting Swans Reflecting Elephants seems appropriate to this theme.

The three novels discussed have the titles; Romanticism, Anarchy and Realism. Kundera goes on to theorise that the ideology behind these texts that binds them together is that 'The world is a process of the disintegration of values, a process that stretches over the four centuries of the Modern Era and is their very essence'. This is simmered down to 5 basic possible attitudes towards the world;

1. Romanticism. the sentiments resist changing times. they are the indestructible underpinning of conservatism.
2. Anarchy. the world divides into the kingdom of Good and the kingdom of Evil, but alas, both are equally impossible to identify.
3. Realism. the absence of moral imperatives is his freedom, his deliverance.
4. absolute of the serious.
5. absolute of the non serious.

I believe that this is a valid perspective, but somewhat limited and rather negative, and I would specifically argue against the definitions of anarchy and realism and replace these with 'bewilderment' and 'narcissism' respectively. 

Kundera appears to be writing form a Marxist/new historicist point of view, paying particular attention to the role of literature through socio-economic consequences post-communism. This approach identifies some very interesting components of fiction, however the discernment of value is weighed in reference to power structures and specific responses to the external complexities of the world. I think the thing I have a problem with is the implied victim mentality, I just don't buy the philosophy that all life is suffering and the ultimate objective is to articulate in the face of doom. 

Even if I did agree, this is still only looking from one angle and seeing that this weeks theme is 'Possibilities' I would like to widen the scope from five options. So here is an interview with my favourite quantum activist, talking about the nature of possibilities.

To truly engage with the concept of possibilities I believe there is a necessity for humility; to admit what we know and don't know. I prefer to be part of the mystery, this 'Mumford & Sons' song Awake My Soul  sums it up perfectly for me;

1 comment:

  1. Claire, you really are getting this. I am pleased with the level of your enagagement and ideas, you are constantly questioning and ideas on "possibilities is first class, thank you, Andy