Better Expect the Unexpected

Opposing perception of the same event, irony of life

The opposition of heaviness to lightness is repeated in the opposing perceptions of the meaning of the infidelities committed by Tomas, the “epic womanizer.”

Tomas does not see himself obsessed with women per se but

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 the one millionth part that makes a woman dissimilar to others of her sex.

Why must the uniqueness be found only in sex?

Only in sexuality does the millionth part dissimilarity become precious, because, not accessible in public, it must be conquered. As recently as fifty years ago, this form of conquest took considerable time (weeks, even months!), and the worth of the conquered object was proportional to the time` the conquest took. Even today, when conquest time has been drastically cut, sexuality seems still to be a strongbox hiding the mystery of a woman’s “I.”

Ponder this: Why must a woman’s uniqueness be conquered, and why must the conquest derive only from sex? Is this a guy thing?

So Tomas’s perception of his infidelities is one of discovery and conquest, two acceptable motivations for the male. And even after he forms an intimate liaison with Tereza he questions

Was he genuinely incapable of abandoning his erotic friendships? He was. It would have torn him apart. He lacked the strength to control his taste for other women. Besides, he failed to see the need. No one knew better than he how little his exploits threatened Tereza. Why give them up? He saw no more reason for that than to deny himself soccer matches

I will refrain from stating my original reaction to Tomas and write only that he exonerates himself toward the end of the novel which I won’t reveal .

Tereza’s perception of these “erotic friendships” is totally opposite of Tomas’s and one of anguish, a doubting of Tomas’s love for her, creating anxiety that leads to nightmares in which she is in the company of naked ladies by a pool, doing knee bends. Tomas is above them, shooting those women who perform the exercise incorrectly. These are the troubled dreams of a woman who finds her mate’s dalliances destructive.

Tereza and Tomas marry, but here is the irony. One would hope that most marriages are based on love between husband and wife, and yet Kundera remarks

Yes, a husband’s funeral is a wife’s true wedding! the climax of her life’s work! The reward for her sufferings!

Diane McCormick

One thought on “Better Expect the Unexpected

  1. Tereza and Tomas by Bright Eyes

    Let’s sail away
    Past the noise of the bay
    Let’s sail away
    Past the birth and death of the day
    Let’s sail away
    To where the blues and greens
    Swirl into gray
    Let’s sail away
    Let’s sail away
    Past the cradle of these waves
    Let’s sail away
    Past the tide and its slow decay
    Let’s sail away
    To where the water goes
    Some endless open space
    Let’s sail away
    Take only what you need, my love
    And leave the rest behind
    Don’t be afraid of where we go, my love
    I promise we’ll be fine
    Now you are the only one that’s mine
    Let’s sail away
    Past the reflections of the light
    Let’s sail away
    Floating weightless through the night
    Let’s sail away
    Like a photograph
    Fading to all white
    It’s finally all right
    Forget all the mistakes, my love
    They won’t be made again
    Leave the photos in the drawer, my love
    We no longer need them
    We both know where we’ve been
    Let’s sail away
    Disappearing in the mist
    Let’s sail away
    With a whisper and a kiss
    Or vanish from a road somewhere
    Like Tereza and Tomas
    Suspended in this bliss

What do you think?