Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Y.O.L.O

Kundera opens the novel discussing Nietzsche's idea of eternal recurrence. As I said in class today, Kundera is concerned with the idea that humans only get one chance in life and we don’t have the ability to go back and edit our decisions, suggesting that human existence doesn’t matter in the end. Kundera writes, “If we have only one life to live, we might as well have not lived at all.” I disagree with this statement. If we believe in eternal return, life is "heavy" because knowing that we will not come again makes our lightness unbearable-- but why does it have to be this way? Why would this knowledge afflict us so negatively? If we know we are going to die eventually and won't have the chance to be a part of something again, why not make the most out of the life you are currently experiencing? As the musical artist Drake so famously said, "You only live once." Wouldn't you appreciate your life even more if you were told tomorrow you would never live your life how it is again? Life is what you make it, so instead of wallowing in the unbearableness, you should embrace the knowledge of imminent death and live life to the fullest every day. What do y'all think?


7 comments:

Ross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sri Korrapati said...

Does it complicate things to introduce #YALA? M.I.A. a famous british female rapper of Sri Lankan Tamil origin coined this term in respect to Hinduism. YALA stands for You Always Live Again. This, as well, has two meanings. It could mean that one should be cautious of every action because each decision we make is judged, and we will be either rewarded or reprimanded because of it. One should live life putting meaning in all choices. This is very heavy. On the other hand, the "popular" way to look at it is where we can always try again. Every decision we make doesn't matter because there will be a next life where we can choose a different path; this allows us to live our lives lightly. Neizstche's idea of eternal return does not apply here exactly. In his myth, we would repeat the same life again and again. In #YALA, we would live different lives every time. Now, we can connect our class discussion of fate vs. chance. In Hinduism, we believe our fates are predetermined by the god Brahma. Before we are born, he writes our fate on our soul's forehead. I've been thinking long and hard about what this means to me. Would it be that my choices don't matter because my fate is predetermined? (Thank you Ms. King for mentioning Robert Frost's road less traveled here!) We might think we have a choice, and that makes us feel better. It could also mean that we don't really have a choice at all. We think we have a choice, but our choices are pre-decided. The last possibility I came up with is more favorable for me. It could be possible that the fate he writes on our foreheads are just predictions of what choices we will make. It gives us freedom, and Brahma is just recording what we have chosen to do in the future. When thinking about #YOLO, we like to think that we are making choices that then we can either regret or feel satisfied with. From a secular sense, #YOLO means (in my opinion) to let go of that our fear that holds us back from doing something. We should be light and just do things on whim so that we won't have heavy regret and instead have satisfied lives. #YOLO is not appropriate for any time, but it has very meaningful uses. When at assembly, one should not #YOLO and just word vomit all over the place (guilty). On stage, during a play, however, it would be helpful to let go of the fear holding you back. We are scared of not being good enough (Tereza?) and hold back on creativity. If we let go of our inner demons, as Mr. Kirkpatrick calls them, we can create something beautiful. We can then look back on that moment and feel satisfied with our choices. #YALA, in my opinion, complicates things much more than I initially thought while writing this response. When we do something stupid with respect to #YOLO, you feel regret. When doing something stupid with regret to #YALA, we may either feel extreme regret or passiveness. We either think of it as something that will have grave consequences or think that in the next life we can start over fresh. I prefer to think of life as neither #YOLO or #YALA. I live in the moment and try doing the best I can do. While #YOLO and #YALA are based completely on living in the moment, I feel that they are too much based on retrospect. While retrospect is good in respect to guiding us for our futures, it is not good when we live in the past and focus on could have’s, should have’s and would have’s.

madison kahn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madison kahn said...

I think what you're saying makes a lot of sense. However, I believe when Kundera says, “If we have only one life to live, we might as well have not lived at all,” he implies a sort of fear of the unknown. We often use the phrase "you only live once" to justify doing crazy and irrational things. These actions, in turn, have consequences, whether they be good or bad. If you know that your current life is your first and last, as Kundera suggests, you're really acting without any basis of what could happen. In other words, you are unaware of the impending consequences of your actions. Such consequences, unknown to you before, now present a sort of "weight" in your life, taking from the sense of lightness you were trying so hard to achieve by making the most of your life. I do agree with your statement that life should be appreciated more with this knowledge of no "second chance", but I believe that we must still take into consideration all possible outcome regarding our actions.

This is a little off topic, but in accordance with your statements about life not being meaningless, most religions believe in some sort of eternal afterlife or cycle of rebirth, which means that everything you do in life helps to determine that. So, how is life meaningless when every action we make determines the rest of our eternity?

Jack said...

Kundera doesn't emphasize whether weight or lightness is superior, and he deals with the other binary opposites in the story the same way. The characters in the story go through many phases of their lives where they switch back and forth between living in lightness and freedom and living with the burden of responsibility. Each decision in life certainly has consequences, but whether the state of life a person is in (e.g. light or weighty) is positive or negative depends on himself. This is where optimism / pessimism and personal preferences come into play, and different people have different attitudes towards different lifestyles.

Jaclyn said...

As Jack said, I don't think Kundera is regarding lightness as more important than weight. They are simply binary opposites, and one cannot exist without the other. He deliberately creates Tereza and Tomas as opposites, just as he creates Sabina and Franz as opposites. However, as discussed in class today, while Thomas and Tereza work out their differences, Sabina and Franz are unable to do so. What is Kundera trying to imply by creating very similar character situations but having them result into very different ways? In my opinion, I think he is simply trying to express the different possibilities a single life can lead. This ties directly in to Abbey's original concern of making decisions in the moment. Each individual, with their vast differences, is shaped by (and simultaneously shapes) others in every action they do. While humans do not have the possibility to change their choices, those choices will undoubtedly shape their future. Considering this, an individual posed with this question is still faced with the confusion at hand: should one regard life as irrelevant, as a nihilist would, or should we give each day our all, because we only get one shot?

Belin Manalle said...

I agree with what Abbey said. The fact that we only have one life and one chance makes it that much more meaningful and "heavy". You have no option to test out a decision or re-do a wrong choice. You have this one shot so you better make it a good one. With that being said I strongly disagree with the idea that "once is never". A person's life or a country's decision will have a massive impact, especially if it was to only happen once. The more something happens then obviously the more common it becomes and the less meaningful as well. The entire existence of Tomas and Tereza's relationship is based on this idea in a way. Tereza is more of a weight character so every detail of her first encounters with Tomas mean so much to her and strike her as fate bringing her and Tomas together. Tomas, on the other hand, believes that these encounters were more chance than anything, and since they happened so often, their relationship didn't mean as much to him. This idea of a "light life" is also what led him to partake in all of these adulterous activities, whereas Tereza just wants to give her all to Tomas because in this one life that they have, she wants to make the right choices and ever since their first encounters, her choice was him. Tomas's decisions effect Tereza so deeply due to her heavy mindset, which causes every action and opinion of Tomas to mean a great deal to her because they only have this one extremely meaningful life. A common action is much less meaningful than a rare one. To use a sort of cliche example, if a Ferarri was coming down the street, almost everyone would turn and look because the rarity of the car makes a large impact. If a Honda was driving by, barely anyone would look because you most likely see a Honda on a daily basis. If a person's opinion is going to happen once, you will take it into account much more than someone's opinion that just repeats over and over again, life after life according to eternal recurrence. That will have no impact on anyone because it is a common occurrence.