Friday, November 24, 2006

"All of us are prisoners of a rigid conception of what is important and what is not, and so we fasten our anxious gaze on the important, while from a hiding place behind our backs the unimportant wages its guerilla war, which will end in surreptitiously changing the world and pouncing on us by surprise." pg. 268.

"It takes so little, so infinitely little, for someone to find himself on the other side of the border, where everything -love, convictions, faith, history- no longer has meaning." pg. 281.

"Jan had never shared Passer's admiration for things changing, but he liked his desire for change, seeing it as mankind's oldest desire, humanity's most conservative conservatism." pg. 294.

"When things are repeated, they lose a fraction of their meaning. Or more exactly, they lose, drop by drop, the vital strength that gives them their illusory meaning. For Jan, therefore, the border is the maximum acceptable dose of repetitions.
I am certain, on the contrary, that the border is constantly with us, irrespective of time and our stage of life, that it is omnipresent, even though circumstances might make it more or less visible...
...It takes so little, a tiny puff of air, for things to shift imperceptibly, and whatever it was that a man was ready to lay down his life for a few seconds earlier seems suddenly to be sheer nonsense.
Jan had friends who like him had left their old homeland and who devoted all their time to the struggle for its lost freedom. All of them had sometimes felt that the bond tying them to their country was just an illusion and that only enduring habit kept them prepared to die for something they did not care about. They all knew that feeling and at the same time were afraid of knowing it, they turned their heads away for fear of seeing the border and stumbling (lured by vertigo as by an abyss) across it to the other side, where the language of their tortured people makes a noise as trivial as the twittering of birds." pg. 296, 297. Milan Kundera, from the Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

The Border

I was preparing a job application yesterday. I did some research about this think-tank, found signs of meaning (coincidential likeness between them and I, what they hold important and what I hold important) and got really excited. I worked on my CV, cover letter, tried to make them perfect. Then my parents called and as I was explaining this think tank to them, they started to make jokes. It's upsetting when people take what I care about lightly. Then I start questioning the importance of what I care about. Then I went to a panel discussion EU Enlargement. I listened to the same things being discussed the upteenth time. What I saw unimportant and beside the point was really about to hijack something I cared about. And after the discussion, a Turk told me the upteenth time that if it was so easily going to be hijacked like that, then there was no point working for it, because "they" didn't have good faith. I didn't even attempt to reply the upteenth time, because I was already on the other side of the border.

(And I agreed secretly. I sometimes find these conversations annoying, because I don't comment on what he cares about. Everybody thinks they can comment on what I care about! I wish I studied something so specialized that noone would dare to comment on.)

Maybe it's not important. Maybe I think it's important, because I already invested in it - I can't be objective about its importance anymore. It must be so sad to realize that what you dedicated your life for is actually wrong, or unimportant. Maybe there is a point of no return, you can't accept the unimportance of something after you spend a certain number of years working for it. After that point, you just keep doing what you have done for years, and you try to convince a world that doesn't care that your story has a point to it. (Or, even worse, you continue advocating something that is wrong.)

Maybe that's how people don't believe in a common story anymore, because all of them proved to be wrong or unfeasible. What I know, is that I'm tired of listening to this stuff over and over again, because they lose their meaning all too quickly.

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