Beauty and daily life

Milan Kundera

Milan Kundera

Stop. Listen. Think. Look
The point of art is to remind us to be alive. To open our eyes. This is a great quote from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera:

It is wrong to chide the novel for being satisfied by mysterious coincidences, but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.

Thank you musicthoughts.com (a new site by Derek Sivers) for reminding me of this great quote from the book by Milan Kundera. The site is a growing compendium of quotes, mainly about music. Here’s another great quote on the site, from Proust:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Song for Adam

A desperately sad day, but a beautiful day also, and a beautiful ceremony. This poem, and the violin solo, brought tears to the eyes:

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make men better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear:
A lily of a day,
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night;
It was the plant, and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures, life may perfect be.

Ben Jonson

“Live all you can;

it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that what have you had?”

from The Ambassadors by Henry James

I am not a great Henry James fan, and had not come across this quote until a request for help for an essay subject from Kate got me googling.

As it happens, the book I was just reading, Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, simply by listing a random array of possibilities, brilliantly captures all that can be wonderful as a parent, and what can be missed. And that it’s often the seemingly small, inconsequential things in life that really count in the end.

Their father had never taken them to the open-air pool on Jesus Green, played rousing games of Snap or Donkey, never tossed them in the air or caught them or pushed them on a swing, had never taken them punting on the river or walking on the Fens or on educational trips to the Fitzwilliam.

Case Histories is a strange combination of the jolly and the terrible that somehow works. With a light touch and decptively simple, short sentences Atkinson illuminates both the terrors and joys of life, brilliantly interweaving the viewpoints of narrator and character, often within a single paragraph. And the message (to use a crude phrase), perhaps the same message of all art (?) – 

Live all you can, it’s a mistake not to.