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Weight or Lightness?

Leslie Francesca

Excerpt from "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" By Milo Kundera

"Which then shall we choose? Weight or Lightness? Is the heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid? The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. The heaviest of burdens is 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.

Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What than shall we choose, weight or lightness? Parmenides saw the world divided into two pairs of opposites: light/darkness, fineness/coarseness, warmth/cold, being/nonbeing. One half of the opposition he called positive (light, fineness, warmth, being). the other negative. We might find this division into positive and negative poles childishly simple except for one difficulty:which is positive, weight or lightness? 

Parmenides responded: lightness is positive, weight negative. Was he correct or not? That is the question. The only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all."