I did read the book la fête de l’insignifiance, Festival of insignificance of Milan Kundera in Dutch translation. Is the book about jokes, is it a collection of jokes? I did read and reread the book, because the at first glance simple stories are full of meaning.
The book is a collection of little interconnected stories with different protagonists.
Alain wonders how to explain why man or a historic period looks upon the navel as the center of feminine temptation.
D’Ardelo is healthy his doctor has said, but he tells Ramon he suffers an incurable cancer. He could not resist laughing thinking about that senseless lie. (is it a joke? He does not know.) “He, D’Ardelo, did not understand anything about the value of insignificance”, Ramon tells Charles.
Charles tells Caliban a joke about Stalin and Khrushchev. He wants to make that story into a string puppet play. “Kalinin is the only man whose name we will remember forever as a memorial to a suffering everybody knows; that hopeless struggle nobody has hurt except he himself.” 1922 Kalinin became head of state of the Sovjet-Union and as such an ally of and submissive to Stalin. Is this a political joke?
The navel is the connection of man to their mothers. From Eva all human people are connected through the navel. Kundera paints a huge tree of mankind connected with the umbilical cords of their mothers and their mothers to Eva.
A Good Mood is the most important in life. Hegel said real humor is impossible without unendliche Wohlgemutheit.
At the party in honour of D’Ardelo’s cancer Charles is watching a little feather that is gliding under the ceiling. In the end all guests are looking at the ceiling. What is the importance of a little feather?
The last part is called The festival of insignificance. We meet most characters at a play by Charles in the Jardin du Luxembourg including Stalin and Kalinin and the mother of Alain.
“Insignificance, my friend, is the essence of existence. It is everywhere and always with us. Even where nobody can see it. In horrible situations, bloody wars, terrible disasters. It needs courage to recognize insignificance in these dramatic circumstances and name it with its name. But we not only must recognize insignificance, we must love it. We must learn to love it. ”