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by adam mathes
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One Millionth Part

I have been completely unable to write anything worth publishing during these past two weeks on vacation. Although there is no guarantee that the future will resemble the past, I am pre-admitting failure for another week.

Instead, this week I will post five brief excerpts from Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.


“Tomas was obsessed by the desire to discover and appropriate that one-millionth part; he saw it as the core of his obsession. He was not obsessed with women; he was obsessed with what in each of them is unimaginable, obsessed, in other words, with that one-millionth part that makes a woman dissimilar to others of her sex.

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We may ask, of course, why he sought that millionth part dissimilarity in sex and nowhere else. Why couldn’t he find it, say, in a woman’s gait or culinary caprices or artistic taste?

To be sure, the millionth part dissimilarity is present in all areas of human existence, but in all areas other than sex it is exposed and needs no one to discover it, needs no scalpel. One woman prefers cheese at the end of the mail, another loathes cauliflower, and although each may demonstrate her originality thereby, it is an originality that demonstrates its own irrelevance and warns us to pay it no heed, to expect nothing of value to come of it.

Only in sexuality does the millionth part dissimilarity become precious, because, not accessible in public, it must be conquered.”

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Part 5 Chapter 9

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