Friday, April 22, 2011

The Bearable Heaviness of Being (4 of 4)

Conclusion Thoughts "On the Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera

“Missions are stupid, Tereza. I have no mission. No one has. And it’s a terrific relief to realize you’re free, free of all missions.” 313

It would be a relief to be free of missions, because it would be a relief to be free of existence. Unfortunately, we’re not the sort of beings that can cede our existence. We exist. We are moral creatures. We have in our hearts images of justice and peace and love. Freedom comes not in abandonment of our nature. It comes by the right exercise of it. We live in a universe of laws. We do not gain freedom from gravity by ignoring it. We find freedom from gravity when we understand it, and how it can be overcome. It is only through mission that we can be free.

Kundera’s dichotomy between heaviness and lightness is a false one. We can have both. Indeed, we must have both. If we choose only heaviness, we are devoured by our destiny, pulled down from joyous life into dread duty, following a mission that is ultimately futile. If we choose lightness, though we gain joy, it is unbearable. A purposeless man is not a man; we float into the heavens like a mist and dissolve in insignificance. Indeed, Kundera commends us to be less like men and more like animals; the true hero of his story is Karenin the dog, who lives in a circle of repetition, ignorant of all heaviness, who dies a meaningless death like all the other characters.

But we are not dogs. Though they may be able to escape in blissful and ignorant lightness, we don’t have that option. We cannot escape the feeling that we have weight. It is also clear that we do not want to remain bound as if by chains to this world. So what are we to do? Let us follow after the first one to escape this dilemma. His great weight was carried off, into the sky, not like a feather, but with feathers. Christ’s weight was like that of a bird: it included the apparatus to be weightless. And so, if we are to remain humans, and if we are to escape death through falling or death through rising, we must follow Christ into the heavens.

Table of Contents:
Introduction - Part 1 of 4
Review - Part 2 of 4
Christ and Kundera - Part 3 of 4

Bonus XKCD Comic:
Randall of XKCD makes pretty much the same argument as Kundera

No comments:

Post a Comment