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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

Category Archives: kundera

kinokuniya.jpgWhy do I read novels?

The shelves at Kinokuniya pride themselves with an ‘ivory-tower’ of intellectual works, opulent facts; facts which provide us with comprehensive intellectual and historical frameworks to understand the world today. But isn’t it true that facts are not just simply known, or read off the world? Isn’t it true that how we perceive, group and organize features that exist intends our ‘truths’ and ‘facts’? Pages that divulge lofty ideas and fix-it answers are, on the other hand, deafening voices of certainty and authority. We fill ourselves with so much answers that I think we begin to lose ourselves and become the answers we sought. Isn’t our journey about owning up to our search for meaning and not just depending on off-the-shelf softwares we install and run conveniently? Yet, all these sell best.

I told Jen that reading novels help me feel human again. Unpretentious, humble and full of flaw and imperfection. ‘Real’ not because they can be empirically or logically proven, either through discourses or concensus. But real. And yes, to quote Kundera (yes, him again), ‘the stupidity of people comes from having an answer to everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything…it seems to me that all over the world people nowadays prefer to judge rather than to understand, to answer rather than to ask, so that the voice of the novel can hardly be heard over the noisy foolishness of human certainties’.

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