1. Joined
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    20 Apr '12 04:212 edits
    Is the lightness of being so unbearable, that we must have a story that rejects it?

    Just something I found about a movie from long ago that has intrigued me ...

    [Edit: the title, actually]

    The following are partial comments on the story, from:

    http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/unbearablelightness/themes.html

    quote follows

    ...Practically, accepting the lightness of being means accepting a certain lack of ultimate meaning in life, and living for momentary beauty. Those who accept lightness, for example, are not likely to ally themselves to political parties, either the Communist regime or the diehard dissidents. While both Tomas and Sabina are characterized by lightness, Sabina is the more extreme example as she consistently refuses to be tied down. Tomas, on the other hand, ultimately returns to Tereza and Prague.

    Kundera associates heaviness with Nietzsche and the philosophy of eternal return. Kundera does not believe eternal return exists, and argues that man only has the opportunity to try one path, and hence has no point of comparison or meaning. Instead, those characters who are heavy cannot accept this unbearable lightness of being, and seek to attach a meaning and weight to what they consider important in life. Tereza and Franz are both heavy characters. Tereza is heavy emotionally and cannot cope with the lightness around her, and is driven nearly to insanity. Franz, interpreting all the events of his life as heavy, is led to an early and unnecessary death.

    Lightness versus weight is the key dichotomy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a paradox that cannot be resolved. None of the four characters ultimately seem to find a solution. It is noteworthy that of the four, Sabina is the only one living at the end of the book; however, not even she is necessarily happy or fulfilled or sure of her life choices.

    end quote
  2. Cape Town
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    20 Apr '12 05:38
    Originally posted by JS357
    Practically, accepting the lightness of being means accepting a certain lack of ultimate meaning in life, and living for momentary beauty.
    It seems to me that the post is saying that momentary beauty is 'the meaning of life' but gives no justification for this claim - and is thus a cause of confusion to the people involved.
    It seems to me that if we accept a certain lack of ultimate meaning in life, that is no justification for then seeking only temporary pleasure. We may still find pleasure in more permanent or longer lasting goals such as our children or even politics.
  3. Joined
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    20 Apr '12 15:29
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    It seems to me that the post is saying that momentary beauty is 'the meaning of life' but gives no justification for this claim - and is thus a cause of confusion to the people involved.
    It seems to me that if we accept a certain lack of ultimate meaning in life, that is no justification for then seeking only temporary pleasure. We may still find pleasure in more permanent or longer lasting goals such as our children or even politics.
    Yes, no doubt you are right. I don't mean to trivialize anything by referring to "story", or overvalue momentary beauty, and I don't think that the book does. (Incidentally, the author Milan Kundra distanced himself from the movie.) But it does seem to me that people are drawn toward finding significance in their lives to the degree that the thought that it might not be significant, is unbearable to them. We have heard that here from some theists WRT what it would be like for them without their faith. There is no reason that children or politics can't be what provides it. My child provides some of that for me. I have known one or two people who, before they "passed on" seemed to be content with the idea that life itself, is a momentary pleasure, but even they seemed to see lasting significance in the relationship they had with their family and friends and their accomplishments, such as taking a step forward generationally from where their parents were, in terms of child-rearing.
  4. Cape Town
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    20 Apr '12 15:49
    Originally posted by JS357
    But it does seem to me that people are drawn toward finding significance in their lives to the degree that the thought that it might not be significant, is unbearable to them.
    Do you mean 'not be significant in the larger scheme of things'? Something may be only significant to us, yet nevertheless very significant (to us).
    I generally agree with your second post and think that most people feel the need to be part of something greater than themselves and this has an effect on peoples behaviour with respect to religion and nationalism etc. I disagree with the description of the characters in the OP which appears to be saying that if there is no 'greater purpose' then we must necessarily go through life seeking temporary pleasure.
    A common, similar argument is often put forward by theists with regard to morality ie if there is no God sitting in judgement and setting a universal moral code, then we should all go around raping and murdering each other.
  5. Joined
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    20 Apr '12 16:25
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Do you mean 'not be significant in the larger scheme of things'? Something may be only significant to us, yet nevertheless very significant (to us).
    I generally agree with your second post and think that most people feel the need to be part of something greater than themselves and this has an effect on peoples behaviour with respect to religion and natio ...[text shortened]... etting a universal moral code, then we should all go around raping and murdering each other.
    I think the idea that something has significance is a subjective evaluation. Of course this leaves open the subjective notion of being part of something greater than ourselves. I appreciate the fact that you see the quoted text as not representing my view in every detail. Quoting others carries that risk. It is just that the phrase "the unbearable lightness of being" is an especially poignant and economic way of expressing an aspect of the human condition, for me; and I see that it is our lot to desire that our lives have some weight, some gravitas, while the doubt nags at some of us, that it might not. The existentialist in me then says, it will have the weight I give it.
  6. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Apr '12 16:312 edits
    Originally posted by JS357
    Is the lightness of being so unbearable, that we must have a story that rejects it?

    Just something I found about a movie from long ago that has intrigued me ...

    [Edit: the title, actually]

    The following are partial comments on the story, from:

    http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/unbearablelightness/themes.html

    quote follows

    ...Practically, accept ...[text shortened]... owever, not even she is necessarily happy or fulfilled or sure of her life choices.

    end quote
    This seems to be a mistaken interpretation of Nietzsche (though he is certainly subject to multiple interpretations), who once wrote: “I would believe only in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity - through him all things fall.” [Perhaps the image of the tightrope-walker in Zarathustra.]

    —Aside: I have a monograph by a scholar (I’d have to search the shelves for it) who argued that Nikos Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek was Kazantzakis’ vision of the ubermensch—Walter Kaufmann, I think it was, put some stress on the fact that Nietzsche did not use the term ubermann, and the ubermensch was intended as an archetype of what N. saw as the best in humanity, including generosity and largesse for example. Kazantzakis did his doctoral dissertation on Nietzsche.

    It is a matter of scholarly debate over whether or not N. believed in an actual “eternal recurrence of the same”, as well as what he meant by it, especially if it was metaphorical: Kaufmann, for example, thought he intended it as a hypothetical (with amor fati being part of an “If…could you?” thought experiment); Kathleen Higgens argued that it was metaphorical and used the analogy of music that has both a repetition and expansion of a theme…
  7. Cape Town
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    20 Apr '12 16:50
    Originally posted by JS357
    I think the idea that something has significance is a subjective evaluation. .... The existentialist in me then says, it will have the weight I give it.
    And I think that is where the theistic solution (making God the 'ultimate purpose'😉 fails. The fact that God wants something even if God is some infinite supreme being is no less subjective and may have little or no importance to me.
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