The Unbearable Lightness of Being The Unbearable Lightness of Being discussion


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Marriage.

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message 1: by The (new) - rated it 5 stars

The The goals we pursue are always veiled. A girl who longs for marriage longs for something she knows nothing about. The boy who hankers after fame has no idea what fame is. The thing that gives our every move its meaning is always totally unknown to us." (Chapter 10)

Central to Kundera's discussions of relationships is commitment, marriage in particular.

Sabina, wanted a life of lightness that, if it was to recur eternally, would be beautiful and enjoyable each time around (a lá Nietzsche). She saw attachment, marriage and commitment as kitsch, and spent her life indulging in her art and exploring the many-sided peculiarities of the men she had relationships with. She concludes that Tomas died happy, as "He died as Tristan, not as Don Juan".

Franz, her antithesis, wanted commitment, or heaviness (a lá Beethoven). He wanted happiness, just as Sabina did, but happiness meant ensuring its longevity; long-term plans, ownership, and living in a glass house. After Sabina's betrayal, he rises her to the point of an apotheosis, and he is committed to visions of her, even in her absence.

These two characters end their lives in what I thought were rather sad circumstances. Sabina seemed so depressed at the end of the novel, living in pastoral America, pensive about her betrayals, and frustrated at the fact she would always be living at odds with kitsch. Franz, who had a perfectly good partner in the student, was allowing his life to be led by a Goddess that wasn't even present.

I'm young and foolish, and still undecided about all these things. But I'll never know if I never ask. My questions are as follows:

If your life was to repeat eternally, would you go through your entire marriage again?

By the same token, serial monogamists, would you have felt happier, and more consistent if you had settled down with a certain someone? Or have you enjoyed the freedom singledom had allowed you?

Any responses are appreciated. I can't get this novel out of my head!


message 2: by Duane (new) - added it

Duane Your life could not "repeat" eternally *without* you going through your entire marriage (And everything else in your "prior" life FTM) - again, or it wouldn't be a "repetition!

In fact, for it to be a true repetition, you wouldn't be able to even remember that you'd lived it before!

Next?


message 3: by The (new) - rated it 5 stars

The Duane wrote: "Your life could not "repeat" eternally *without* you going through your entire marriage (And everything else in your "prior" life FTM) - again, or it wouldn't be a "repetition!

In fact, for it to ..."


Right. I don't know how familiar you are with the eternal return, but the basic premises are like this:

Eternal return (also known as "eternal recurrence") is a concept that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space. The concept is found in Indian philosophy and in ancient Egypt and was subsequently taken up by the Pythagoreans and Stoics. With the decline of antiquity and the spread of Christianity, the concept fell into disuse in the Western world, with the exception of Friedrich Nietzsche, who connected the thought to many of his other concepts, including amor fati.

In addition, the philosophical concept of eternal recurrence was addressed by Arthur Schopenhauer. It is a purely physical concept, involving no supernatural reincarnation, but the return of beings in the same bodies. Time is viewed as being not linear but cyclical.

The basic premise proceeds from the assumption that the probability of a world coming into existence exactly like our own is greater than zero (we know this because our world exists). If space is infinite, then cosmology tells us that our existence will recur an infinite number of times


As for memory of past lives, I don't think that's an issue. You could use such logic to suggest that we are solipsistic beings who have no moral responsibility towards others, but most people do. Most people are charitable towards those they will never meet, and can even be courteous to the most heinous of characters.Also, things would normally be most painful the first time around. On the presumption of knowledge about that event, things would be easier the second, third, fourth time around, as you would have had a lifetime to prepare. Regrets, for example, are hypothetical desires to change things in one's past, but everyone has regrets.


message 4: by Duane (last edited Jan 21, 2015 10:39PM) (new) - added it

Duane If there is any difference between one "cycle" and the next, even the memory of a previous "cycle", then the cycles are not identical. I.e., they are not "recurrences", but rather, progressively mutated copies of one another.

That's not to say that, given enough hashish, someone couldn't conceive of exacly duplicated universes, or that there *couldn't* be exact repetitions, or that time can't run around in circles, etc... but if you're going to claim that a lifetime "repeats" itself, you can't simultaneously claim that someone can somehow have "learned" something from the previous lifetime and then apply it in the next. The two lifetimes aren't identical, in such case.

I, for one, think that God, having made human beings in His image, probably is the type of asshole who WOULD give somebody the opportunity to relive their life doing something differently, and then really fuck them up some way that they never thought of, that resulted from their having made some change that they were just *sure* was a mistake, just so He could laugh his ass off at the dumbfounded look on their face. So while I can agonize over of all manner of things in my life that I would Do Differently if I could Do It Over Again, I have no confidence whatsoever that I wouldn't have just ended up *worse* off in the long run anyway, for reasons that I never could have imagined no matter how much hashish I smoked...


message 5: by The (new) - rated it 5 stars

The Duane wrote: "If there is any difference between one "cycle" and the next, even the memory of a previous "cycle", then the cycles are not identical. I.e., they are not "recurrences", but rather, progressively m..."

...have you read the book Duane?


message 6: by Duane (last edited Feb 07, 2015 01:16AM) (new) - added it

Duane Yeah, sort of. (i.e., I skimmed through it, rather too fast, after having seen the movie first, which was probably a mistake).

Interestingly, FWIW, I once worked with a Czech guy who had a schoolmate who had the author as a professor, and (yeah, FOAF story...) apparently the author was very much like the male protagonist he created in the story, in that - and I quote - "no skirt was safe" around him.


message 7: by The (new) - rated it 5 stars

The Duane wrote: "Yeah, sort of. (i.e., I skimmed through it, rather too fast, after having seen the movie first, which was probably a mistake).

Interestingly, FWIW, I once worked with a Czech guy who had a school..."


Interesting! I definitely got the feeling of "auteur" from Tomas


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