Saturday, February 03, 2007

Castle of the unforgettable 1

In an age of the increasingly ephemeral, Kundera has long championed the permanence of art and the Flaubertian ideal of making every word count. A true novelist, he proclaims, should aim at nothing less than to build "an indestructible castle of the unforgettable":

"Against our real world, which, by its very nature, is fleeting and worthy of forgetting, works of art stand as a different world, a world that is ideal, solid, where every detail has its importance, its meaning, where everything in it - every word, every phrase - deserves to be unforgettable and was conceived to be such."
Michael Dirda on Milan Kundera's The Curtain.


  1. Anonymous9:52 pm

    While believing utterly in the importance of art, Dirda's comments strike me as a kind of sickening, life-denying escapism. "Our real world which is worthy of forgetting"= horse manure. He should realise that art doesn't exist in some utopian dimension apart from life, but within this life that he deems worthy of forgetting. It reeks of the desire for art to take the place of the religious or Infinite that he presumably has no faith in, and a similarly atrophied faith in life.

  2. Andrew, I should have made it clearer: the words in italics are Kundera's.

    I don't believe it's life-denying escapism but an attempt to make sense of art's chilling remove from life - "a universe we have failed to recognize" as quoted in the post below it - and how life itself partakes of that remove. Something like that.

  3. Anonymous10:33 pm

    I'm a fairly impatient person, Steve, and quick to leap in with my Howitzer conclusions. I think that. There of course is often plenty scope for misinterpretation in others' words and what you pointed to in the other post could suggest you are closer to the truth here. In terms of agreeing with Kundeira about art, here's my own description of the noble pursuit.
    Art is the distillation of life involving the union of intelligence, technique and feeling.



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