Einmal ist keinmal. What happens but once, according to the German adage, might as well not have happened at all. If we only have on life to live, we might as well not have lived at all.
Tomáš Gabzdil Libertiny’s “Unbearable Lightness” posits a similar notion. It lies in stark contrast to the Neitzche’s notion of “eternal recurrence,” which suggests that our experiences perpetually recur—that our choices in life ripple throughout eternity and infinitum. Milan Kundra, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, further defines “external recurrence” by noting that, “If every second of our lives recurs an infinite number of times, we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross. It is a terrifying prospect. In the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lies heavy on every move we make. That is why Nietzche called the idea of eternal return the heaviest of burdens.”
To believe that our actions have never ending reactions—that our actions and their repercussions recur forever—is what is, to quote Nietzche and Martin McFly, “heavy.” Certainly, if such were the case, then our existence would be one defined by our care, by our unwillingness to fail.
The unbearable lightness is the essence of einmal ist keinmal. That is, our existence is but one life time, the outcome of which bares no weight on eternity. Again, I will defer to Milan Kundra to explain this perplexing concept: “[God] made man ‘maitre et proprietaire de la nature.’ And surely there is a deep connection between that step and the fact that he was also the one who point-blank denied animals a soul. Man is master and proprietor, says Descartes, whereas the beast is merely an automaton, an animated machine, a machina animata. When an animal laments, it is not a lament; it is merely the rasp of a poorly functioning mechanism. When a wagon wheel grates, the wagon is not in pain; it simply needs oiling.”
What Libteriny has done is reduce the most significant moment in Western history—the most significant person in Christianity. He has assimilated Christ with the a machina animata. Christ and the Cruxifiction become nothing more than a cog in nature’s wheel. In short, Christ is no longer Christ; he is simply a man who was executed for subversion. As a result, we are no better than the wagon wheel. We either function properly or we don’t. Life occurs regardless of our existence.
Unbearably light, isn’t it?
Thanks, Libertiny. I’ll send you my psychiatric bill.
If your looking to further existential crises, go to www.tomaslibertiny.com.
PS. The sculpting is done by a process called selective laser sintering. And, the honeycomb is done by bees.
By Scott Warfe