Monday, August 22, 2016

Recurrence

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?

2 comments:

Rickeia Coleman said...

I think that Kundera does not necessarily believe in eternal return but he is fascinated with the idea of it. I think this because during the first few pages of The Unbearable Lightness of Being Kundera claims that if life only recurs once then it has no meaning. He also claims that if something happens once it might as well not have happened at all which makes the reader question what his exact feelings on eternal return are if he believes that something only has significance or "weight" if it occurs multiple times. On the opposing end, it seems as though he tries to debunk the idea of eternal return through his four main characters and their stories so I think you can argue that he is or isn't for the idea of eternal return based on reader interpretation.

Joseph Martin said...

Kundera's idea of the "Unbearable Lightness of Being" directly contrasts Nietzsche's theory of eternal return. This contrast is detailed in the article by Gregory Kimbrell. Nietzsche's idea of eternal recurrence would actually be weighty because it consists of the same events repeated over and over again for eternity. This gives weight and meaning to life. In contrast, Kundera describes lightness of being as unbearable because without weight, all will eventually be forgotten and meaningless. Therefore, I agree with the above statements about something only having weight if it happens over and over again. I would argue that Kundera's purpose in writing this novel is to create philosophical debates. At the least, the events of the novel lead to the unbearable lightness of being overpowering the idea of eternal return. Kundera does not reveal his opinion either way, despite the title being the "Unbearable Lightness of Being." Some characters, such as Tereza, do not accept the lightness of being, but Tomas accepts it. Eternal return is the more optimistic approach than the unbearable lightness of being.