The Unbearable Lightness of Being at 22


My philosophical journey started in 10th grade with Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (the seed to my later architecture leanings) moving on to Sartre and existentialism by the end of high school. In college, it continued with existentialism through Kierkegaard, then a long-lasting affair with Romanticism and difficult relationships with Heidegger, Hegel, and Nietzsche, men I will never fully understand. My literature was American/English/French, but my philosophy was always German plus one Dane. My senior year in college, I became infatuated with Milan Kundera, to the point where I wanted to name my first-born child Milan, not to mention I also liked the Italian city. After hours spent with a bore like Kant, Kundera’s novels were a godsend, entertaining and highly digestible. I consumed almost all his novels that year along with Sex and the City episodes. I eventually outgrew Kundera, more so than I did Carrie Bradshaw. In the end, Kundera became forgettable. When asked about this novel recently, the only thing that came to mind was one minor skinny female character, and this character wasn’t even from unbearable but another Kundera novel. Even after writing a 15-page paper on The Farewell Waltz (where the skinny character actually came from), I wondered how can one forget so much. Being falsely accused of identifying with Sabina, I couldn’t even defend myself.

Having read the book again, half of it deals with stuff I am interested in i.e.  love, art, beauty, and the other half, stuff I am not, infidelity and politics/communism.

In my twenties, I was definitely the victim of this and to guys I wasn’t even initially attracted to in the first place:  “Does he love me? Does he love anyone more than me? Does he love me more than I love him? Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short.” Kundera

Love is repetition and the weight that makes Being bearable, personified by Karenin the dog, whose sole function in life is her repetitive expression of love. “Happiness is the longing for repetition.” Karenin’s death escapes kitsch; she gives birth to a decidedly postmodern epitaph, two rolls and a bee, unlike Franz whose epitaph will forever be kitsch.

Sabina, in the end, becomes so light (through cremation) she finally attains the opposite. “She would be lighter than air. As Parmenides would put it, the negative would change into the positive.” Kundera

Sabina’s love for the cemeteries of Bohemia, where her father and uncle are buried, finally allow her to touch weight by becoming lighter than air.

Tereza is long-suffering, loyal and filled with a sense of duty. She deserves Karenin’s and Tomas’ love.

I like the thesis that love starts with a metaphor that is wrapped in the poetic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s