Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Unbearableness of Lightness

Sabina says that the source of her melancholy does not come from the heaviness of a burden, but instead and unbearable lightness of being. While this statement addresses the fact that being light is perhaps an unhealthy lifestyle for Sabina, it also gives insight into the title of the book, which then poses the question: what makes lightness unbearable? Well, my take is that lightness is unbearable because it implies a lifestyle where there is nothing to bear. Lightness is unbearable because there is nothing to bear, because it creates a void in one's life. Lightness hence introduces an individual to his or her despair in a way opposite to heaviness, which ironically, we equivocate with an unbearable burden when in fact that burden is only seemingly unbearable. Seeing it this way, I think living heavy has a few advantages over living light, because at least you can feel the weight of your life and experiences rather than nothing at all. Likewise, this relates very closely to all our discussions of the nihilist and existential components of this novel.


Laura N said...

Sabina's consecutive betrayals and noncommittal lifestyle contributes to her "light" lifestyle. She doesn't seem to have much compassion of consideration for others and acts impulsively according to what makes her feel happy. But she doesn't feel happy. Her lightness is unbearable. Perhaps Kundera is saying that in order to live fully you must consider others and have compassion for them. Its a "No man is an island" type of thing. You can't only live for yourself and still be happy. You also cant loose yourself or your identity by trying to please others; extreme compassion might cripple you and thwart your goals. Other people's happiness contributes to your own. Maybe kundera is saying that you have to balance your concern for others and concern for yourself in order for life to be bearable.

Cassidy George said...

The unbearable lightness of being reminds me a lot of Stoppard's play, R and G are dead. The central conflict in that piece dealt with the futility of life. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are without purpose and feel doomed by their inevitable death. They are the epitome of lightness, they have no identity, no past, no real relationships and no cause. Their reality is unbearable. They have nothing weighing them down and hence travel miserably through their meaningless life toward their doom.