Life as a road

“Road: a strip of ground over which one walks. A route differs from a road not only because it is solely intended for vehicles, but also because it is merely a line that connects one point with another. A route has no meaning in itself; its meaning derives from the two points that it connects. A road is a tribute to space. Every stretch of road has meaning in itself and invites us to stop. A route is the triumphant devaluation of space, which thanks to it has been reduced to a mere obstacle to human movement and a waste of time.

Before roads and paths disappeared from the landscape, they had disappeared from the human soul: man stopped wanting to walk, to walk on his own feet and enjoy it. What’s more, he no longer saw his life as a road, but as a route: a line that led from one point to another (…). Time became a mere obstacle to life, an obstacle that had to be overcome by ever greater speed.

Road and route; these are also two different conceptions of beauty. (…) In the world of routes, a beautiful landscape means: an island of beauty connected by a long line with other islands of beauty. In the worlds of roads and paths, beauty is continuous and constantly changing; it tells us at every step: “Stop!”.”

Milan Kundera – Immortality

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