Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Our discussion the other day about characters trying to find their paradise in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" gave me a new potential perspective on the novel. If Tereza, Tomas, Franz, and Sabina live their lives in order to achieve their own version of Paradise, then are they that different from the Communist regime that oppresses them? All of these people and groups try to implement a plan of action to find the most idyllic way of life. Tereza marries Tomas because he represents a higher way of life for her, Franz divorces his wife for Sabina, Tomas has his concept of body and soul and the rule of threes, and Sabina's betrays and flees constantly. All of these o supposed means of achieving Paradise, though none of these actually are successful. If the reader takes an introspective look on him or her self, he or she can most likely find examples of trying to find personal paradise in their own lives. Therefore, the philosophies of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" can influence the reader's life and perhaps change their perspective in a way unique to this novel.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Bailey's post about Kitsch's ideas on authenticity was very intriguing. Sabina's distaste for bodily functions is somewhat hypocritical. Not only, according to Kitsch, it is inauthentic, but considering her familiarity with the human body, she should be used to its functions. Kitsch's ideas on inauthenticity, go against the views of the general population. Most people would prefer not to discuss orgasms or excrement but according to Kitsch, accepting these ideas are essential to being authentic.
The idea of The Unbearble Lightness of Being is interesting to me. Tomas is the perfect example of "lightness" being a burden. Because he has no attachments, he has created an elaborate system of "erotic friendships" which, while they seem like a good idea, weigh him down when he falls in love with Tereza. His lack of attachment becomes a burden to him. Tereza on the other hand is burdened by her over attachments, and must force herself to overcome them. Her extreme aversion to her body is one that plagues her throughout the novel and she must learn to become light.
I think kitsch is a very interesting idea because when you think about it, it is very disappointing that society cannot accept certain aspects of our lives. Every single person does things that are "gross" but everyone does them so it shouldn't be so unacceptable to talk about. I completely understand why Sabina rebels against everything that has to do with kitsch. She wants to be an individual and not be told what to do.
I enjoyed discussing Tomas' comparison of the communist regime to Oedipus. Oedipus as a tragedy is very interesting. Oedipus as a character is forced to deal with the guilt of actions that's he was predestined for. While the communist regime was obviously not predestined to occupy Czecholslovakia, the two situations still parallel one another. The communist regime ruled over many people and destroyed all freedom of expression. Oedipus killed his father and then as King ruled over his people. The just like Oedipus, the communist regime committed horendous acts due to their ignorance. However, Tomas contrasts the two situations by pointing out that the communist regime feels no guilt for the otrocities they have committed and poses the important question:Does ignorance equal innocence?
Throughout the novel, it is very apparent that Tereza and Sabina are very different. Tereza is very protective of her body. She tries to equate love to sex, so she only has sex with people she loves. Meanwhile, Sabina sleeps around. She does not equate love and sex. She's very free with her body. Tereza settles down with Tomas, but Sabina leaves as soon Franz tries to get serious. Tereza wants commitment, but Sabina is afraid of it. However, over the course of the novel, Tereza transforms. She has an affair with the engineer and likes it. From then on, she does not equate love with sex and becomes more like Sabina. She doesn't sleep around as much, but she is more free.
Throughout the novel, Kundera debates with the reader on whether it is better to live life in terms of lightness or weight. Kundera never decides on which is better, but I believe that he favors weight. One aspect that lead me to suspect this, is that Kundera mentions that life is novelistic, such that it shares aspects of fictional novels. Many people use the term "novelistic" to mean fake or made up, because it is associated with fiction. While the stories in novels may be made up, or fictional, they are similar to real world experiences, which is why they are so relatable to the reader. Kundera defends this concept and says that there are many of the same moments and experiences in the real world. This shows that Kundera believes the world has meaning, and favors weight over lightness.
In Kundera's final section, Karenin's Smile, Tereza and Tomas face the difficult realization that their beloved dog, Karenin, is going to die. Being a current pet owner myself, I know the amount of love an animal can provide. My little Yorkie, Callie, is one of my best friends because she constantly shows me affection which I reciprocate to her as well. Any animal lover and owner knows that having an animal be in your care requires you to be responsible, attentive, and caring towards your pet's needs (food, water, love, etc.). Kundera points out in Part 7 that "Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test [...] consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals" (pg. 289). I believe this statement perfectly explains how animals under human care are totally reliant on their owners to provide them with the care they need. Animals cannot communicate with humans, so they are dependent on all mankind to still love and care for them without being able to say what they need. Having a pet pass away is one of the hardest deaths to cope with. In certain situations, an animal can be seen as another member of the family (I know this is very true for my family & Callie). Below I have attached a video & article from Inside Edition that depict how a little love for an animal, can ultimately go a long way in their life and signify how strong of a bond animals and their owners form.
Throughout Kundera's novel, one of the main characters, Tereza, struggles to define her self-worth and obtain confidence in her body and individuality as a woman. This battle is specifically depicted in parts 2 and 4 which focus on the dichotomy between body and soul. I believe Tereza's insecurities are relatable to all women in today's society. Due to social media, people every day are able to post what is happening in their lives. This has allowed for women across the globe to share their struggles with body image, relationship turmoil, and family problems which Tereza also faced in the book. Below, I have attached a link to an article that describes a young woman's weight loss story as she documented it for roughly a year on an Instagram account. In today's society, so many women have to battle with their self-confidence because they don't like what they see when they look in a mirror. I think this reflects Tereza's struggle to accept herself in the eyes of her mother, Tomas, and her mirror. I believe the overlap in both scenarios shows how a fundamental part of the human experience is finding one's value and place in the world (and ultimately trying to love oneself) which I think is one of Kundera's main points in his novel.
Friday, August 26, 2016
I really enjoyed learning about the philosophy and history behind the book. Learning the history of Stalin and the USSR take over of the eastern world. Stalin's policy of totally orthodoxy (and normalization later) makes sense in the novel. These policies are reflected when Tomas is asked to write a retraction letter or lose his job. He ultimately loses his job because he refuses to bow down to communism. Later, when the petition is published, the press focuses on its negatives rather than what the petition actually stated. This is an example of how to government censored and controlled the press. I like learning about the history behind the novel because it helps us better understand the setting.
Kundera frequently references the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," but history has a definite impact on the entire scope of the novel. Even though Kundera specifically denounces the claim that history has influenced his work, there is an evident correlation between his life and the events of the novel. For instance, he was driven from his own country and forced to live in France. His works were even banned in Czechoslovakia for a time. This parallels to how Tomas had to flee from Czechoslovakia, and how he was not allowed to continue his profession of being a doctor. In this way, Tomas and Kundera are very similar. The freedom of expression in the novel, such as Tereza's job photographing protests, relates to the time in 1968 where Czechoslovakia had more freedom of press and self-expression such as art and film. These freedoms were restricted with the 1968 Russian invasion and the establishment of Communism. Therefore, I believe that history not only influences the characters, but also Kundera's perspective. This is good because it helps Kundera blend reality and fiction.
Heidegger's idea of authenticity and unbearable lightness of being is kind of grim in my opinion. Saying that life has no meaning is very discouraging. I do like the idea of being honest with yourself and living your life "authentically" but I think that life does have some sort of meaning. What that purpose is, I have no clue. I just think it'd be hard going through life thinking that you are pointless and that the world will be the exact same without you. I think Heidegger went in the right direction trying to make the idea of the unbearable lightness of being less grim by adding the idea of authenticity, but I also do think that someone can be a good person and make mistakes without having "bad faith".
Monday, August 22, 2016
Nietzsche's concept of the ubermensch, or overman, creates an ideal way of life according to his beliefs. This way includes living life in the moment by embracing uncertainty and getting rid of necessity. The most interesting part of this theory is that this way of life contradicts the most common tenets created throughout time. Most works intended to guide the human race to achieve greatness involve being morally correct by planning actions beforehand and debating cause and effect. Therefore, ubermensch is an unconventional approach to directing human life. This unearths Nietzsche's rejection of God/ religion, science, and truth because these items are traditional methods and concepts that people tend to use to guide their lives.
I thought it was very interesting to learn about Nietzsche's take on Christianity because it was very nontraditional, but he made such good points to back up his ideas that it was hard to argue with. He explained two basic morals - one of the master and the other of the slave. The master morality is very self-involved and based on the will to power. The slave morality is all about generosity. The slaves feel resentment towards the master so they make themselves feel superior by saying that because they suffer in life now, they will be rewarded in the afterlife while their masters will suffer in hell. Nietzsche says that the master morality is superior because they are living happily and doing whatever they want for themselves without a care in the world. Because Christianity is all about doing good for others and being self-sacrificing so you will be rewarded in the afterlife, Nietzsche says that Christianity comes from the slave morality which is inferior; therefore, Christianity is inferior. He asks, what's the point of suffering for your whole life when you can live your life happily and enjoy it?
Nietzsche talks about ways that we can endure the idea of recurrence. He talks about how we must be very well disposed to our lives as well as ourselves in order to be able to withstand the idea of eternal recurrence. If we can achieve this, we will desire nothing more than to live this same life over and over again. But in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera states at the bottom of page 298 that man cannot be happy because of the fact that he longs for repetition. The fact that time is not a circle is what causes man unhappiness, not the fact that it is. This seems to be a large disagreement between Kundera and Nietzsche. What do you guys think?
I enjoyed learning about the concept of eternal return and "amor fati." In order to be happy with eternal return, you must accept and love your fate. I think its an interesting but true concept. If you are miserable in your life and want it to end, you would obviously be distraught when you found out that life is cyclical and will basically never end. Eternal return is a concept for happy people, not depressed people. That makes me wonder why Nietzsche came up with it. For what we've learned so far, he seemed to be a friendless and sickly. Why would he come up with the concept of eternal return if his life was miserable? Perhaps maybe he wasn't depressed, but it seems like no one would want to relive the kind of life he had. It is interesting to me that a person like Nietzsche would come up with concepts of eternal return and amor fati.