Sunday, January 08, 2006


I have been reading "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", which is a book about the contradiction between an event meaning everything, and meaning nothing. Part of the contradiction is our poor understanding of "meaning", I would argue, but this doesn't detract from the very real mental effects.

Everyone, I might suggest, has at some point realised that things which are really terribly meaningful, like say the French revolution, just don't matter very much to them. They're not connected to them, and it's of no particular importance how history has unfolded. The suffering of thousands is reduced to a historical anecdote -- intellectually of some significance, but without real impact on each of us.

Similarly, our own lives are doomed to insignificance. What does it matter what we achieve?

For me the question is -- why does this bother some of us so much? Is it merely a frustrated desire for immortality? Is this why we are driven to concieve of fate, gods and eternal meaning? Why is the pleasure of life not enough? Why do we apply the term meaning to our lives, as though there were some greater arbiter of the meaning of things that our own collective consciousnesses?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi there,
i very recently just read that book! i read the english version. i love how cynical sometimes the author seems to be. at the moment i havn't really read much into the meaning imbedded in the novel. but i'll be back : )

1/14/2006 11:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

I loved that book. Although, come to think of it, I can't really remember what it was about. It was the one with the player husband and the wife who he got together with when she turned up on his doorstep or something, right? I do remember loving it, I swear.

I saw "Shall We Dance" about a year ago. I know, I know, I thought it was terrible too. But the thing I remember from it is that the Susan Sarandon character has this speech about how marriage is basically a way of dealing with the unbearable lightness of being, although she didn't use those exact words :)

One of the things that marriage gives us is a person to whom our small triumphs and humiliations DO matter. Our lives may not make a dent on history or humanity in general, but they will make a dent on at least one other person. That's why we want to get married and stay married.

Look I actually found that quite resonant. I don't care if it had J-Lo in it.

1/16/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger MelbournePhilosopher said...

Great to hear from you Becky. I suppose you are back in N.Z. now?

I find life increasingly absurd, myself. I was reading a t.v. review recently, in which on of the characters was described as believing that "people are ridiculous, therefore our institutions -- the law, the government and the media -- are also ridiculous, and the only thing left to do is be in on the joke".

I guess I think it's important to get over the "unbearable" bit of the lightness of being. I find that with the right attitude, life is not only bearable, but positively enjoyable!


1/16/2006 04:22:00 PM  

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