Sunny sky. Small town in Dorset, England. A park. And a book. The book, Milan Kundera’s Les testaments trahis. In it, I read two sentences that make me think.
L’homme désire l’éternité mais il ne peut avoir que son ersatz: l’instant de l’extase. (Man longs for eternity, but he only can have its erstaz: the instant of ecstasy.)
Kundera defines ecstasy as the absolute identification with the present instant, oblivion of past and future. It is outside time and independent of it. Therefore it can be compared with eternity. Man [human beings], thus, cannot have the latter, even though he wants it. Ecstasy is its replacement.
[O]n pense toujours à la douleur de la nostalgie; mais ce qui est pire, c’est la douleur de l’aliénation; le mot allemand die Entfremdung exprime mieux ce que je veux désigner: le processus durant lequel ce qui nous a été proche est devenu étranger. (We always think about the pain of nostalgia; but it is worse the pain of alienation; the German word die Entfremdung expresses better what I’m referring to: the process through which what was close to us becomes foreign.)
There is another German word that has stayed with me since I heard about it on Spanish TV. In German homesickness is Heimweh, but German romanticism coined the opposite Fernweh, far-sickness, the longing to be far away. The nostalgia of the faraway.
I have thought so many times about this word. I mentioned it to so many people. It defines me. The search for this faraway, which one will never reach, is similar to the search for eternity. Travelling is no more than a series of ecstasies. It is the only replacement we have in the search of the impossible we are longing for so much, in our alienation of what was closed to us, but became estranged: home and time.