Weinz's Reviews > The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
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Jan 21, 10

Read in January, 2010

I spent part of my lazy weekend reading this book on the grassy hills of The Huntington Library surrounded by gardens, art, and beauty. Even the serene surroundings and my sensational reading date could not make up for this book. Weak characters, horrible assumptions, pseudo philosophy, and no clear grasp of how women are actually motivated.

Only wannabe Lotharios who pride themselves as philosophers would enjoy this.

I tried. I really did.
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message 2: by Weinz (last edited Jan 21, 2010 10:26AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Weinz Isaiah wrote: "idiot"

Just because someone disagrees with your own limited shallow opinion does not make them an idiot.


message 3: by David (new)

David You tell him, Weinman!


brian   a mediocre book at best.
grrrrrr! go weinman!


trivialchemy Michelle wrote: "Isaiah wrote: "idiot"

Just because someone disagrees with your own limited shallow opinion doesn't not make them an idiot. "


You know what, you're right. It doesn't not make them [sic:] an idiot.


message 6: by David (new)

David Zing.


Weinz amended.


trivialchemy ... and the plural personal pronoun? I'm not so impolitic as to sic for mere redundancy.


message 9: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris This reminds me of my favorite internet insult: "Your an idiot."


Weinz Oh please, go read some Roth.


message 11: by Bram (last edited Jan 21, 2010 11:59AM) (new)

Bram I'm just posting so that I get updates on this thread.


trivialchemy Michelle wrote: "Oh please, go read some Roth."

At whom is this even directed? Is there a Roth apologist on this thread?


message 13: by David (new)

David I can't even believe Isaiah played the pronoun-agreement card. Ouch. That's like capping off a political debate with insinuations of dangling participles.


Weinz Isaiah wrote: At whom is this even directed? Is there a Roth apologist on this thread?"

That's my way of calling you an idiot.


Weinz Let's just agree to disagree Isaiah sweet. We have different tastes in literature and what we even define as literature. We still have McCarthy.


message 16: by David (new)

David No no! No olive branches here!

Welcome to Thunderdome! Two readers enter, one reader leaves!


message 17: by Bram (last edited Jan 21, 2010 12:36PM) (new)

Bram Yes! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... Dyin' time's here.

(All this controversy kind of makes me want to read this thing.)


Weinz I'll spare you.

Weak man enters and finds weak woman. Underwhelming storyline ensues.

Second weak man enters and finds another underdeveloped character. Poor dialogue and .... the end.




Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Bram wrote: "I'm just posting so that I get updates on this thread. "

Ditto.


message 20: by Bram (new)

Bram Looks like this might have fizzled out.

I haven't had my blood boiling on Goodreads in awhile...I think the last time was when someone started talking shit about Tolstoy in Ben's The Brothers Karamazov review. I need to pick more fights.


message 21: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Jan 21, 2010 01:24PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Someone inevitably pisses me off everyday on here. I just swallow my rage and take another few months off of my life. With my amazing foresight I can usually tell exactly how the argument will go and how even more frustrating it will be. I've learned to leave these things be. I'm mildly proud of myself for exercising some restraint of any kind.


message 22: by Bram (last edited Jan 21, 2010 01:25PM) (new)

Bram Yeah, I've started to write scathing/mocking responses to various people/reviews on a number of occasions...but I usually end up deciding it's not worth it and I delete them. So in actuality, I'm a much bigger asshole than my comments suggest.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Bram wrote: "So in actuality, I'm a much bigger asshole than my comments suggest."

Impossible! Nobody's that much of an asshole. (I kid, of course.)

I save my true online mean-spiritedness for the morons, trolls, etc, that find their way into philosophy forums on myspace. It involves a lot of derisive animated gifs in between trying to have a serious discussion. I like that balance of high and low brow.


message 24: by trivialchemy (last edited Jan 21, 2010 02:19PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

trivialchemy Michelle wrote: "I'll spare you.

Weak man enters and finds weak woman. Underwhelming storyline ensues. "


Over the last few days of ULOB-bashing, I've learned to come to grips emotionally with criticisms of the uncomplicated, explanatory way Kundera develops his plotlines. And I've come to grips with those who find his interjected philosophizing annoying, and his philosophy in general pretentious and distracting from the story. I don't agree with these things, but I can see how someone would have that visceral reaction to the manner in which the text is composed.

But I'm a lot less comfortable with the weak man/weak woman complaint. And far less so with derision of this variety:

Only wannabe Lotharios who pride themselves as philosophers would enjoy this.

I don't think wienerman's an idiot, obviously. I love wienerman. We could grow old together and teach each other about pronouns, and make little wienerman-harp hybrids and I would bathe in joy, and Davey-boy could watch.

But, really, is it not obvious that Tomas is a weak man? And that Tereza is a weak woman? Does this not go without being said? How is this a criticism? This novel is not a celebration of Tomas and Tereza's relationship! It's an exploration of those very weaknesses. What is the psychological attitude that enables Tomas' unrepentant libertinism in the face of his professed love for Tereza? Why is Tereza's weakness sexually subsumed to Tomas' psychological weakness? Given all of these paradoxes, all these people hurting one another and lying to each other and lying to themselves, what is actually real? What can be counted on? How do people make decisions about what's real, and what can be counted on?

I can't say it enough. This book is not a celebration. The whole novel is permeated with sadness. For Tereza, for Sabina, for Tomas, for Franz, for Karenin. That said, if anything characterizes ULOB more than sadness, perhaps, it's how convincing the characters are in justifying their actions and their feelings. Each character is simultaneously unreliable and damn convincing, in the same way that Humbert Humbert is (although Tomas is the only one that is like Humbert in moral fiber as well). Tomas believes promiscuity and love are binary and apart; Sabina believes that she can attain sexual equality with men by becoming sexually "liberated" (the female version of Tomas' belief); Franz believes in some vision of medieval romance, dislocated into the Prague Spring; and Tereza, well... Tereza is weak in a way that deserves love, and can't reconcile that redemptiveness with the behavior of men and the human assumptions of patriarchy.

But I feel like people read into these characters and either mistook their apprehensions for Kundera's assertions, or actually really started to be convinced by their beliefs, and became incensed by it. Defensive at the fear that this was "truth", or that Kundera was claiming it was "truth." But there is no truth here. There is only a study of how things are, and how we think about those things, and how they hurt. It's a study of whether that hurt is light or heavy. But for God's sake, it's not normative.


trivialchemy Yeah, y'all are right. This thread was more cooler when we were just insulting each other.


Who wants to take bets on Fleshy's sexual orientation? I'll bet* he's into freaky shit like dude-on-dude-on-felty.



*I hope


message 26: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Jan 22, 2010 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Who wants to take bets on Fleshy's sexual orientation? I'll bet* he's into freaky shit like dude-on-dude-on-felty.

Bullseye. Except you left out the vital ingredient which is Karen enthusiastically watching whilst hurling cook books and Young Adult fiction at the whole, hot, guy/guy/felty mess and dictating the action en Français.

Oh, and she slaps the vegans in this hot mess equation with cold cuts and sheep's guts and sizzling bacon.


message 27: by RandomAnthony (last edited Jan 22, 2010 05:12PM) (new)

RandomAnthony Weak characters, horrible assumptions, pseudo philosophy, and no clear grasp of how women are actually motivated.

I think you just described the male goodreads population, including me, Michelle...

(Should I end that comment with a smiley face? I think I'm boycotting smiley faces from now on.)




message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I never liked this book, very glad to read your review!~


message 29: by Stephen (new)

Stephen I just want to fight. Isaiah is right. PS. I've never read the book, but I love to see what he comes up with.


Weinz Isaiah, I completely see your point. The book is not a celebration. The assertions were of the characters and not Kundera himself (which also brings up the whole breaking down the fourth wall gimmick he did but we won't get into THAT). He's not my type of writer. I value the structure of a beautiful sentence. MK just doesn't do it for me.

But we shall still have our Weiner/Harp hybrids and name them all David. Our own little triathlete team. On to the relay!

Bram, where is the hate? I want to see it. Get pissy. If JB's pictures today taught us anything it was that GR was due for a little excitement.

RA, Come now, not ALL GR men. Look at Stephen. He's full of character. Nothing weak about him. :) :) (I like the smiley)

Jessica, Thank you. As always you are full of grace.


message 31: by N. J. (new) - added it

N. J. Lopez hey fuck you...i liked it...and im no wannabe .I.


trivialchemy Yeah, fuck you! I read The Game! I get it.


Weinz Well Isaiah, if you've read The Game then I take it all back. I'm wooed by your smooth words. No wannabe lotharios here.


Allan Just read the book and liked your review-am just about with you on it.


Janosch :D Great review!!! Don't listen to this negative crap here! YOU are totally right! This books is garbage.


message 36: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Mar 02, 2013 06:43AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Oh wow, look at that hilarious young firebrand in message 26. Oh how we change over the years...


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Moments like this remind me that I'll be continually re-reminded of my previous/old self that left its mark on GR for better and/or worse...


message 38: by Weinz (last edited Mar 02, 2013 07:16AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Weinz I've deleted so many reviews for that reason. I wrote that??!! DELETE!

When you've been on gr as long as we have, Fleshy, good and bad posts are going to be natural. I see no bad posts here except for some of mine. I'm just not a natural shit talker. Too much of a pacifist.


trivialchemy This thread was like my pivotal attempt to make you shit-talk me, Wein, and the best I got was a circuitous reference to Philip Roth. Oh, to be 2010 again.


Shengyu Is its attitude towards women the only thing holding you against it?


Bobby Bermea David wrote: "No no! No olive branches here!

Welcome to Thunderdome! Two readers enter, one reader leaves! "


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha


Bobby Bermea "Only wannabe Lotharios who pride themselves as philosophers would enjoy this."

Strange thing to put in a review of a book that obviously crossed so many demographic lines. You can just flip through the reviews of this book right here on Goodreads and see that this statement is not true. So, what are you getting at here?


Weinz It was a dig at a good friend that worked.


Bobby Bermea Ah!


message 45: by Judene (new)

Judene Ouch! I really loved this book and it had a profound affect on my life. Don't hate me!


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