Saturday, December 22, 2012

There is a stretch of woods tucked in behind upper Georgetown accessible through Rock Creek Park below the great stone highway bridge of Massachusetts Avenue where I take my walks.  It's there where I scramble over rocks, taking an occasional perch, surveying the changing woods through the seasons.  Back along the parkway adding to the aerobic semi-workout I remember I don't it like as much, the gentle animal, freed and transported by the woods now feeling he is back running the modern gauntlet, ceaseless traffic, initially subtle smells of pollutions.  The woods have been liberating enough, lovely and deep as the poet says that I can hold on to the feeling, even as I lose the enthusiasm to write as I did while back in the woods, left with some vestiges of the thoughts had out at dusk with the moon fresh and high up above beech trees near a stream descending, as I return and sit down in my old apartment.

I guess you have to know great sorrow and feelings of near insanity in order to appreciate the moments of clarity.  The woods bring sanity, definitely, maybe not always, but often enough, as if they were there in their own way like a girlfriend to talk to and listen to.  Comforting anyway.  Climb over some rocks above a lazy stream, over leaves piled in rocky nooks, great networks of tree roots spreading like fingers holding to rock, and you'll remember the gentle being within, that manages to stay with you through all the great confusion of concerns of metropolitan life.

I sit on a rock, pondering for a moment Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, Prince Myshkin.  That idiot in all of us.  Who manages to be the center, freed of all the ego stuff, the multiple legion of voices that can come into your head.  Even the sternest and organized, most pious and professional people have enchanting ego voices inside their heads, voices that tell them what they must have and need.  Or perhaps they have found one ego voice of all of them that sounds the most logical and practical like that of the corporation they might be part of by which they earn their bread and butter and other things so that reasonably they can sleep at night, having solved all the major issues of life.  Well, by a good guess, those voices, not necessarily 'evil ones' (as voices in the head are sometimes portrayed, being the sole property of crazy people), are not who we are.  And one has the distinct perception that the gentle being  quite content to sit on a comfy rock and look over a stand of nature and nature's logic (water flow, rock placement, dirt banks, tree position, branch arch, leaf) is close to that being who is us, all of us.

I wrote a book sort of a thing, and the principal point therein was the enabling of this person to say something gentle and with no motive but that of life itself.  He brings flowers to this brat girl he has an affection for, as he has affection for all beings, and when told that he is crazy for doing so simply responds, "crazy to bring flowers to a beautiful girl."  In doing so he achieves that state of grace he has always been in, content with the way of the Universe.  Okay, he may be a total bumbler about all the logic of how to make things happen, but in his sudden freedom from motives (and all the motives people have put upon him like small charges of this and that) he discovers himself and therefore knows all the better what love, or "love," is, if that is the situation and the context that he is placed in.

So, what do you do when you are motiveless, when you suddenly find yourself in harmony with nature, warm under a coat and wool sweater taking in the woods at dusk?  What does this mean about career choices to be made?  But even that confusion passes out of you, ceasing to exist.

I think sometimes when I am out there on my walks of picture of John F. Kennedy walking off over the dunes, the one used by Chris Matthews for the cover of his biography.  You can sense how it was greatly gratifying for him to be there on the dunes.  He's looking off, a jacket under his arm, engaged in something very human, which is to find release and simply be as one is.

Now I am home, having stopped in a little grocery store, and I am a little bit tired.  But feeling a whole lot better than I was when my workweek was done, in a better state.  The past week provided a very clear example of why we don't just give out guns, put them in any old hand that can carry them.  People, having been divorced from their ego-free natural state, have voices inside their heads, egos that on a certain day might tell them randomly,  and somehow persuasively enough, to go and do something very bad.

I suppose it is one of the paradoxes of human existence, and of that existence within society, that the only real guides we have are the ones who are free of ego, or freer, rather than those who have bought into ego.  Unfortunately the latter type are always the louder ones, always the kind to make sure that they get what they want, generally of the convincing type, and often leaving other types out in the cold.  As long as we know that, and can be on guard about it, maybe, who knows, things will work out.
One might have naively thought the big corporate egos telling us what's good for us would somehow have been obliterated by the ancient wisdom of the objects in the sky that is the reset of the Mayan calendar.   But here's the old NRA guy singing for his well-compensated supper on behalf of those who manufacture guns of the assault type, telling us that guns are good for us, glorifying gun culture, we should all have one.

The good news is that not everyone's buying it, that people are beginning to do something about it.

And here's another informative piece about dietary culture from io9, a piece by George Dvorsky, "Why  You Should Probably Stop Eating Wheat," found through Google News, Discovery News and hopefully elsewhere out on the web.  The piece points out that wheat has been severely hybridized over the last fifty years to the point it has bad stuff in it.  Wheat, and glutens, it turns out just aren't good for at least a sizable part of the population.  Of course a significant amount of it is ceaselessly pushed our way with all its addictive qualities.

Friday, December 21, 2012

There are times, in certain moods, when it is hard to put a happy and sanguine view on things, hard to put a positive interpretation on life's events and the way you handled things.  Sometimes you only see all the things you messed up, all the mistakes you made, the lack of decisiveness, all the things that leave you feeling lonely and alone and seeing that such a condition is only going to worsen, despite all the hopefulness you bring earlier on in life.  You feel you did something wrong, and you don't quite know where to pinpoint it.

Is it that you are different somehow?  An arrogant thought.  Work, groceries, dishes, laundry, naps, wine...  what else is there to save you?  How do you cope?  Walks in the woods?  A bike ride?

What you can't do is turn the clock back and make amends.  And everyone will tell you, there isn't any point in dwelling, in living, in the past, which is obviously true, but not always easy advice to take up.

You're doing the same wrong thing over and over again, it seems.  You don't know how to get out.  You're not taking care of basic needs, not standing up for yourself.  I suppose a writer faces the same thing an athlete faces.  Obscurity, lack of a financial safety net and the sense of a valid career.

I can understand the psychological pressures upon Suzy Favor Hamilton, the need for escape, for what feels like excitement, a "coping mechanism" to counter depression.  And I wonder if a job like tending bar isn't too terribly far from elements of being an escort sometimes, to exaggerate slightly.  I don't blame her one bit.  And that's probably the Christian thing to do anyway.
And while we're at it, here's another really good piece about a really good person being honest about being human...  (I have to wonder if she has Type O blood.)  Someone that brings to us a real situation. One can only have the greatest kind of quiet gratitude and applause for such an athlete, such an individual.  I'm sure many people will be able to reveal more about themselves and their own coping mechanisms, make the psychological more an accepted form of talk.  "Former Olympian" is very human, commendable on many levels.

Former Olympian Cites Depression for Taking Job as Escort

The thought reminds me of Twain.  He didn't say it, out loud, not that I know of.  "If you could blame what you wrote, instantly and directly, on other people, there would be a lot more good writing out there."  Currently, as the set up goes, what you wrote, well, you're kind of stuck with it, like, for the rest of your life.  This, plainly, discourages creativity.  Hemingway, by the way, would add, to the part of who to blame, or when, or how long, "lastingly."  That sounds like a word he would have wrote, as least as far as my thoughts go.  And he was a brave guy, because he wrote stuff and had to stand by it, and people could have easily said, reacting to it, "oh, that's weird, really not...  no, I, can only see that as vulgar... and disturbing," even though people, lighted up by Freud and other developments, instantly saw that writing was a lot like psychotherapy, a way of getting things out, through symbol, the kinds of things you think about that haunt you that you know you need to somehow get down, put down on paper, get out of the bag...  Which made reading instantly attractive, as if the cathartic process of whatever art the human being had ever come up with from cave painting to tempera, from saga, bard, playwright sonnet maker was able to evolve and develop to meet what ever the times threw at the forms of art and the basic drive behind art.  And the times threw a lot in the face of humanity in, say, an event like WWI, the coming home of the ghosts of colonialism (and thoughtless industrialism) on mass scale at the door step of Europe, such that it would never forget.

Perhaps it is a sign of 'manhood,' adulthood, when the being becomes more attuned, focussed, aligned with whatever he finds sayable and worth mentioning.  You can indeed work long and hard finding something worthy of putting down on paper.  (You can work long and hard, and then find what you have to say ill mannered, unintelligent.)  And you can indeed find things that you really think are vital observations, and these happen in very personal spaces, leaving you to conclude that this was why you started messing about in the first place.

All those sorts of 'fictional thoughts,' thoughts taken from the imagination as little or steady voices, allow one to find a way to think what he/she really thinks.  The form those thoughts take is interesting to mark.  Some paint.  Some make films.  Some take up music.  Some write in certain ways.

And it might be said, that the deepest, or truest, of thoughts are something one has to think about, as they come out as puzzles in a way.  Or as something seen by a very deep and daring mind who is able to move symbols in incredible and mythological ways.  Celebratory, not pessimistic.

"The world is full of ghosts, and such is exactly what each individual represents," the thought might go.  And so then we get on that thin ground that might break beneath our feet, yet knowing in an instinctive way that such is true, true on all levels, symbolically, religiously, poetically, figuratively, literally, metaphysically, as true as we know a push-up works the chest and shoulder muscles.

Of course, such thoughts come into play when we encounter certain minds, effected by the poetry of such minds.  In Emily Dickinson land, we get her nature odes.  In MacGowan land, we get a line of ancient Irish schooling and ghosts.  In each, our own sensitivities pick up what antennae tell us.  And so, we deserve our fascination with Abraham Lincoln, a channel, if you will.

Characters, ghosts, Lears, poems, book depository sixth floor cardboard boxes (as if to predict how cardboard box delivery--and airplanes with metal caskets--would come to rule our present lives), famine haunted dunes of the sands of beaches in County Mayo, Buddha ghosts, candles, reverberations of the thoughts of Twain and Faulkner, Joyce claptrap, Kerouac, the whale mouth sieve technique of writing, the haunted Carolina rocking chair of Kennedy, well-read Kennedy who knew history, the puzzles of old Maupassant's short story taken internationally, around the world, into the depths of deep China, Hamlet too stiff for us, too unyielding, too impersonal (as princes are), but perhaps the best modern speaker of the final truth of the Universe blown into being.  Joyce had gift of language, poor working stiff does not have, but smelleth the same ghosts on shingle beaches though far away.  Worn out by conversations, just as he is enlivened and enlightened by them, an inner eye seeing the friendly ghosts behind everyone's life, like that weird film of the fallen angel in Berlin hanging about, Wim Wenders style.  Yes, Berlin is somewhere I would show up, if I were a ghost.  "Definitely," as people say.

Dedication, to work, what is it?  We must first abide by our ghosts, by the sweet ghosts of the creativity of all our thousand human ancestors (7000 years ago, like taking to Facebook, the kids made cheese in pots now fragmented.)

Daniel Inouye is honored, lies in state in the Capitol rotunda, veteran of Monte Casino.

Writing... you'd rather blame it on someone else.  Not my fault.  Just a tradition.  Somehow good for us, good for our health.

And we should know, despite the show, that everyone and things related is a ghost of something, and in that act, becoming something real and present.

It's always a matter of ghosts versus empire.

All this...  I cannot blame on anyone else.

Just a little sensitivity,
not too much,
not too much time alone
wondering about things.
Laying the sweet memory
of your father down
like a hugged child at night,
to bed and come back
with wakened day.
My old man.
Sweet gentle dad.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pogues accordionist and author James Fearnley gives a portrait of Shane MacGowan in his account of life with the band, Here Comes Everybody.  There's a lot of drinking.  MacGowan is hard to deal with, sometimes bullying, quite often wasted, unreachable, on a long slide.  For anyone wanting to learn more of MacGowan, this makes for hard reading.  Though capable of quips of wisdom, often of a practical nature, like how not to get beaten up in Northern Ireland, this is not a person you'd want to spend much time with.  The question is asked, genius or idiot?  Does he come up with songs inspired by his habits, or despite them?  The creative song writing process of MacGowan's world is shielded, perhaps guarded, happening independently of interaction, and we are left with a portrait of a bore intent largely upon drinking.  It's kind of sad, of course, and things seem to get worse over time and touring and heroin.

But perhaps, as with any story of an artist, there is missing space in the puzzle, and perhaps on top of that, things that may not make logical sense.  In interviews, discussing his views on, say, Irish music being akin to rock'n'roll, or about music in general (to paraphrase, "music is everywhere, in the ground, in the water, in the rain, and we just put it in boxes"), or about Irish literature, or on remembering Ronnie Drew, MacGowan comes across with glimmers (at the least) of being informed, well-read, possessing a bright intelligent mind, as he does in his imaginably long-suffering girlfriend's account of conversation with him,  A Drink With Shane MacGowan, a vehicle for his philosophizing.  (To say nothing of the primary evidence of a thoughtful mind in some particular songs, the poetry of his account of being a kid in North London working for Meals on Wheels, "NW3," for example.)  There are times when spending time considering his raw works seem a little more justified while the world goes about its serious business trying to right itself.

Enter the NY Times' recent piece piece on concentration, the focus of the mind, reached through meditation, through getting rid of all the random thoughts running through the head.  And one begins to see, perhaps, how the great thinkers do it.  They effectively stop thinking, clear the mind.  (The piece seems to veer off into a discussion of abilities with multi-tasking, but obviously this is ground worth exploring.)

For MacGowan's part, one wonders, is his 'meditation and mindfulness' gained through simply getting wasted, which would seem a bit like cheating maybe.  Is his access to creativity a token of an Irish nature, stubbornly clinging to the old ways rooted in lyrical tradition, spirituality and rooted humanity?  MacGowan was, once upon a time, a bright kid, Eliot's poem, "Preludes," a favorite of his.  As his songs suggest, one wonders what happens to such people.  Perhaps the territory raised up for us by Konnikova's piece isn't entirely frivolity, say what you will about those who attempt to be practitioners of it.

And for an artistic person (as an afterthought here), while it is painful to remember the times when one was unwittingly in a general creative mode, engaged in a kind of 'not thinking,' in moments where it would have been a lot better to be thinking quite practically and 'on one's toes' as far as life goes, there lies within such a consideration of thought and liberated brain power a gentle understanding apology.  It's just how thinkers/artists/scientists are sometimes, a habit to tolerate.  And perhaps for an artist to tolerate himself he must further allow himself entry to the mode of 'mindfulness' to keep that which must be taken as worries of a practical sort for a time at bay.  A kind of feedback loop emerges in which the mode is more necessary for survival and well being, else one would get too down on himself.  Reasonably assuming that with age comes greater worry, the importance and vitality of deeper thought patterns might naturally emerge.  And in full adulthood, as a consequence, perhaps one does, like a Jesus, end up taking on a large part of the carefully constructed empire that makes modern life possible (viewed from the lens of the self-fulfilling prophecy rule-abiding empires seem to be fond of imposing.) While a MacGowan doesn't seem like the kind of person to be judgmental about certain kinds of behavior, there is a certain kind of politics he supports, one generally against the excesses of empire.

JFK and Churchill took naps, allowing the meditations of rest inform and develop their sensibilities, enabling them to enter into modes different and broader from the conventional military/diplomatic views of a LeMay or a Chamberlain, and often involving the raising of questions rather than the acceptance of a known status quo.  I fear the same is true with respect to poets, who share the same interest in craft as the academics who do well teaching about poetry, but have a fondness too much of their own poetic modes and mindfulness to be comfortable with the conventions of professional academia.  (Some are able to do both.)  It's not a question of will and rational thought and logic, but of a deeper choice, one the individual may not be so happy with in terms of conventional happiness, a matter of conscience.

As with everything else, an artist is vulnerable in chrysalis stage, in hatching stage, in transformation, in development.  That is the hard part, surviving the coming out, the first steps.  The struggles, inner and outer become a good part of the art.   Perhaps an artist cannot be blamed for whatever in their human judgment is defense mechanism.  Music is clung to for survival and sanity for the life playing music creates.  (No wonder Mr. MacGowan's musical compositions are from a younger time.)  "I wanted to be a professional musician," Mr. McGowan is recorded as saying in documentary.  "Thank God I become one."


The Power of Concentration

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bill O'Reilly is saying it's all a matter of "evil."  That's what the school shooting is, according to him, an outbreak of "evil," and he's backed up by the dramatic Geraldo.  Evil, comparable to the Nazi death camps.

Things are a little more thoughtful, mindful, over at MSNBC.  The acknowledgement of the gunman's possible autism, mental health issues.   Such people we allow to have guns and lots of bullets, make it easy, make the assault weapon prevalent enough to fall into such hands.

Back at O'Reilly's factor, or whatever he calls it, O'Reilly is smugly claiming:  he knows evil, he knows evil when he sees it.  (This is what sets him apart as a righteous individual, better than 'others' and Obama.)  There is evil in the world and we have to deal with it.  There is absolutely not even the slightest thought of mentioning 'gun control.'  This, in such an O'Reilly world of righteousness (and self-righteousness), is beside the point.  Evil is in the perpetrator.  It's not a question of society setting up such a disaster to happen almost willfully.

Guns are entrenched, as Bobby Kennedy suggested in '68, as a part of the economy, part of the GNP, as was Whitman's rifle, part of that fancy of "American life."  Perhaps it is impossible to separate the good gun use and the possibility of the bad.  It requires thought, and without leadership, quality leadership, this is impossible.

Friday, December 14, 2012

It is a very sad Friday today, with the news of another school shooting rampage.

One puts aside, for the time being, the thought that some people are oriented around art, that the things they do are ones that establish community and friendship's sharing, acts that are good for health and cortisol levels, as a recent viewing of parts of a PBS show, Art and the Mind, explains well.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chef Simon comes upstairs to the wine bar at the end of the night, and since my mom is there, he tells some stories.  Back in France there is a test for chefs that must be passed.  It involves slaughtering a rabbit.  Clock it on the back of the head, let the blood run down, and next thing you're skinning the rabbit in one smooth motion of the main incision.  Simon explains to us, he never likes, never will like, the killing part.  I pour him a little more Bordeaux.  Soft shell crab...  oh, no, you do it, I didn't quite get the hang, Chef...  Avoid it.  Learn the lesson through not quite doing it yourself actually.  "I hate killing!"  His eyes are open now, not that they aren't always.  The important test, the apprentice shows up, and sees the rabbits, dead ones, carcasses, hanging up, headless, and the live ones remaining.  Each year, 'no, I can't do it, I'm sorry, I can't do it.'  Then one year, our Chef Simon is first for the test.  No little bunny carcasses hanging up in front of everyone...  Can he do it?
Day One of the week, and it should have been a reasonable Sunday, but it's 5AM now, and I hardly feel sleepy at all.  Cortisol, it must be.  The door opened at 5:30, and in came the early burst, ready to get 3 or 4 courses in before paying their checks at 6:45 to head to the Dumbarton Oaks Concert Series. Which means rushing.  Which sets a tone.  And then people keep coming, and the waiter downstairs has already called off any extra help.

Moonshiners--good TV.  The cat sits next to me on the arm of the couch, purring away.  She likes being near me these days, affectionately, and she seems rather expressive, as if we finally we're talking quite steadily, her with purring, little vocalizations, nudges of the head, a suggestion of a deep ear massage.  She's taken to, as its getting to be winter time, the old Polish lady's Flemish chair, the burlap underneath turning to sawdust, the right sag for her to curl up agains the cold.  But she likes to lie close to me as well as I sleep.  Mom had a good line about the towel I keep at the head of the bed to absorb the blood from her rectal cancer.  Get a red one, that way feeling more comfortable, wisdom from our old neighbor from Amherst.

There is the soothing Frank's Hot Sauce taste of an '09 Chinon to calm me down, if that's what it does.  There's the Optimus Svea little brass mountain climber stove to play with, along with dishes done.  Mom is coming to town.  A baby is being born.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

If I had thoughts to think at this moment now, where we are here in the US of A, I would think about
"the least of these."

Good job, PBS, tonight.  Frontline's piece on Poor Kids.  Followed by a documentary, Park Avenue, about the addresses of billionaires and Koch brothers, some pretty big and selfish Egos, adept at mistruths, taken on up the street into the poorest congressional district in the US, where people aren't so well off.


When we love, we put ourselves humble, we put ourselves low, we become the least.  In doing so, we come into focus, some might say; a mode, we enter into.  And this would be confusing to anyone involved with mass culture, the great show, aggressive, conspicuous, powerful, desired wealth, as it runs largely contrary to it.  Our culture trains to show, greatly, make a big show of love.  Beyond the show of plumage and competence, a show of material comfort and enticements (and shopping abilities) perhaps?  It sounds silly to mention.  To be quiet about it, to be reserved, that would seem to us almost as creepy or psychologically unhealthy.

An economy that works must allow a place for the humble worker bee, who goes to work with sentiment based on love.  The fault of society lies in not creating a culture where meekness and humility   are celebrated (rather than taken as a sign of personal weakness.)

Then there are the Ayn Rand Libertarians...  In contrast to an FDR, who saw the great moral waste of people out of work, the moral value of people having work.  Simple works the WPA initiated, like making hiking trails still in happy use today.

Good simple work that everyone can do, and also make an attempt of a living from--that might well be what we could use.  Not the complex stuff that was wrought upon us by investors, investors pushing high tech stuff so that they could make money in speculation, the same folks who tanked our economy through speculations upon speculations.

One of the many reasons PBS deserves its place, and even a better one.

I suppose my own work, behind a bar, or more nebulously in a notebook, is of the same lines as that good ole WPA make-work, nothing remarkable, just using a resource that would otherwise go to waste.    Not stuff of the big CEO Ego with big earnings and big lifestyle and conspicuous 'hard work.'  Indeed, far more toward the employ an unemployable bum side of things.  Becoming a school teacher got too complicated for him, and that system seems largely broken to him anyway as far as the temperament of his offerings.

But the artist's workshop, his atelier, the humble discoveries of things that might be sung about in sonnets, like the great humility of love, the rare sense of being unworthy but lifted up anyway, maybe these are practical discoveries in that they might speak to the human condition or to the meaning of life or to the meaning of reality.

What else can an artist do, but sing of happy but very impractical things that have little bearing on the workings of the world.  Doesn't the History Channel's 'Mankind, the Story of All of Us' show us that history is decided by battles, iron, military might, so that the main comment material was provided by celebrity warriors you wouldn't want to mess with?  (Give them credit for touching upon Jesus--they bloodied him up pretty good, of course--and for mentioning the world's major religions, though beyond the history of the Roman Empire there was little of it.)

Thankfully there are small discoveries that artist can make, observations on what we might call the soul.  What is the soul of love when we love?  Not being churchmen, artists and writers have come up with interesting and often dark versions of love, as if it were their primary business, failed love, love gone bad, Romeo and Juliet, love of the thwarted beings populating Winesburg, Ohio, Hemingway's tragedies...  And it makes for good reading, good entertainment, I suppose.  However, we still have to get up the next day and go about our business, and so, without an adult view (like that of Chekhov) such dwellings upon can become adolescent, a song of Ego, therefore false, to be risen above in the spirit of normal human calm, to be ultimately ignored like the mature turning off the latest pop song with its heavy beat and incessant shrill 'me me me.'  (As 'me' is ultimately an illusion.)

The humility of love... well, what do we do with it?  Does that help us make better microchips?  Well, no, not at all, but maybe it does help explain another mystery, of how we manage to go off to work every day, not out of selfishness or careerist stuff, but more or less selflessly, being the spark plug of the great democratic economy.  Even without promise of retirement or security.
We allow Shakespeare his respected place in literature because of his eternal wisdom.  His works show out his conception of the Ego's falseness.  His plays are full of lessons, the equality of the human condition, beggar and king miserable and human alike.  His take on thinking, 'nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so,' cannot be argued with.  Wild almost Buddhist ideas though they are.  His tales are full of the excesses and misguidedness of Egotistical thinking, the suffering caused through mental machinations based on greed and power-seeking.  They are full of victims, of Egoless people put down, abused, harmed, overlooked, all by way of a lesson, a moral tale that goes down easily as far as the preaching of a moral.  Lear is led by egotistical illusions, fed by the conniving and insincere, and he will face his lesson, tragically too late for Cordelia.  Hamlet, who sees through Ego, in praise of egoless sensitivity, is consciously or not one of the bard's high heroes.

He wrote in a time when it was very dangerous to preach a morality based directly on Church teachings, as then one might have to take a side in a bloody conflict, Catholic versus Protestant.  (His plays seem to have lived in a strange open secrecy, or cleverly disguised right out in the open in front of the paranoid sanctimonious spies of Elizabeth.)  And his understandings of the Ego's folly, of the need to humble one's self to the truths of life, were as dangerous, wild and radical then as they are now, as they were two thousand years ago.  Hard for us to imagine, perhaps, the dangers, ever present, of his day.

The Universe seems to have embraced him, allowed him not just as a comic and a teller of histories, but as a deeper philosopher whose commentary on love, on life, on human ways is appreciated now as then.  One hopes he prompted discussions and thoughtful considerations then as now, as his points, though subtly cloaked at times, cannot be missed.  Times haven't changed much.

The battle of literature is always that one "against the State," against the mode of selfish desire and dehumanizing security.  In Kundera's Central Europe it takes one form, defined as that battle is by the Ego of 'Communist' Reality, the Police State, the exile of contrarians, the logic of power for the sake of power.  Here perhaps it is the tyranny of another kind of majority bent on Ego of a different sort, blinded by material achievement against the great humility of spirituality, against the great potential of the least amongst us.   In his own day Shakespeare may have come very close to being in some very hot water.

The Christian (or Judeao-Christian) message, or the Buddhist message, simply seems to have the accuracy of a modern physics about it.  It survives as a truth we can all see and understand, maybe piecemeal, maybe bit by bit, maybe a little at a time, growing gradually, comprehended, at least at times, with fullness.