But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?
The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
I love Milan Kundera. I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being years ago, and have since lost my original copy. Recently however, I was struck by the overwhelming desire to read it again, so I picked it up this afternoon. I read a lot of crap — noir and pulpy sci-fi being two of my favorite genres — and I’ve been craving something to dive into and possibly drown in. It’s been long enough since I made my way through Kundera’s major works that I can scarcely separate the plots and premises of the disparate novels, and therefore should be able to come at him from a somewhat fresh perspective. His writing is heady and deep, while somehow being light enough to be accessible to almost anyone. There’s an air of mischief to even his most difficult writing. I just love him.
When I read the quote above, I immediately thought of social media’s influence on the cultural landscape. I thought of inspo Instagram, the prevalence of “sapiosexual” thirst accounts on Twitter, (sluts in glasses who might know how to read dishing out insincere flattery and bland, soft porn scenarios), the sophomoric lecturing from celebrities and politicians on subjects they seem to have to no grasp on, &tc. Humans crave depth. They crave meaning. And yet they shy away from it. “Depth” is derided, categorized as boring.
It’s almost as if “humankind cannot bear very much reality.” We can, and quite handily. We choose not to because we have the luxury of not having to tend to our lives with any sense of responsibility or truth. We choose an empty, consensual hallucination while our lives go unlived. Disconnected from our discontent.
Which is not to say that everything must bear weight. Levity has its place, and it is welcome. But at some point we must become real. Become something other than the persona we’ve chosen for social media.
… humankind cannot bear very much reality.Four Quartets. TS Eliot.
I have always been this way — the girl who thinks too much, who sits on park benches and porches and in diners willing to discuss the unanswerable questions, the headiest books she’s actually read, the theological limitations of any and all religion, the psychological ramifications of a single decision, the dimensional philosophy of love, quantum theory, astrophysics — you name it. I’ve been told I’m annoying, “a bit much,” an overthinker. I’m also funny and goofy. I laugh as loudly as I debate. I smile a lot more than one would gather from my selfie library.
But even my lightness has weight. I prefer a messy “real” life over a manageable “fake” one. Perhaps it’s my early experience with much of the worst humankind has to offer, or maybe I’m just wired like this. Either way, the result is the same.
Weigh me down. I love every minute of it.