for this meeting was not a continuation of their erotic rendezvous, each of which had been an opportunity to think up some new little vice; it was a recapitulation of time, a hymn to their common past, a sentimental summary of an unsentimental story that was disappearing in the distance.

the bowler hat was a motif in the musical composition that was sabina's life. it returned again and again, each time with a different meaning, and all the meanings flowed through the bowler hat like water through a riverbed. i might call it heraclitus' ("you can't step twice into the same river") riverbed: the bowler hat was a bed through which each time sabina saw another river flow, another semantic river: each time the same object would give rise to a new meaning, though all former meanings would resonate (like an echo, like a parade of echoes) together with the new ones. each new experience would resound, each time enriching the harmony. ...

now, perhaps, we are in a better position to understand the abyss separating sabina and franz: he listened eagerly to the story of her life and she was equally eager to hear the story of his, but although they had a clear understanding of the logical meaning of the words they exchanged, they failed to hear the semantic susurrus of the river flowing through them.

and so when she put on the bowler hat in his presence, franz felt uncomfortable, as if someone had spoken to him in a language he did not know. it was neither obscene nor sentimental, merely an incomprehensible gesture. what made him uncomfortable was its very lack of meaning.

when people are fairly young and the musical composition of their lives is still in its opening bars, they can go about writing it together and exchange motifs (the way tomas and sabina exchanged the motif of the bowler hat), but if they meet when they are older, like franz and sabina, their musical compositions are more or less complete, and every motif, every object, every word means something different to each of them.

if i were to make a record of all sabina and franz's conversations, i could compile a long lexicon of their misunderstandings.

milan kundera


thank you rain for everything you have done for us in the last fifteen minutes. the oppressive heat that we experience every day, the heat that plagues us from the minute we wake up sweating, stuck to the sheets all the way through the day as we try to survive the still humid air then further even into our dreams, a presence that is always there, momentarily lifted for a short but sweet minute of my life. the cool breath of air that floats through my window, caressing my back and drying my sweat, was just what i needed. thank you rain for showing me that even though life is hard, it is also beautiful at the times when we need it most.


to measure time by how little we change is to find how little we've lived; but to measure time by how much we've lost is to wish we hadn't changed at all. there are ledgers that stay open all life, there are scores we'll never re-pay ... it is the insoluble knot we can't leave behind but bring with us wherever we go, it is who we are when we are alone and no one else is looking; it is our tussle with one person we can never outgrow but fear we'll never become. it is, in the end, how we make sense of our lives when we know there is no sense to be made.

andre aciman