Lightness and Heaviness. Kundera

Eternal Return dictates that all things in existence recur over and over again for all eternity. This is to say that human history is a preset circle without progress, the same events arising perpetually and doomed never to alter or to improve. Existence is thus weighty because it stands fixed in an infinite cycle. This weightiness is “the heaviest of burdens”, for “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.” At the same time, it is necessary for any event to occur in the cycle of events exactly as it has always occurred for the cycle to be identical; consequently, everything takes on an eternally fixed meaning. This fact prevents one from believing things to be fleeting and worthless.

The inverse of this concept is Kundera’s “unbearable lightness of being.” Assuming that eternal return were impossible, humankind would experience an “absolute absence of burden,” and this would “[cause] man to be lighter than air” in his lack of weight of meaning. Something which does not forever recur has its brief existence, and, once it is complete, the universe goes on existing, utterly indifferent to the completed phenomenon. “Life which disappears once and for all, which does not return” writes Kundera, is “without weight…and whether it was horrible, beautiful, or sublime…means nothing.” Each life is insignificant; every decision does not matter. Since decisions do not matter, they are “light”: they do not tie us down. However, at the same time, the insignificance of our decisions – our lives, or being – is unbearable. Hence, “the unbearable lightness of being.” On the other hand, eternal existence would demand of us strict adherence to pre-scripted rules and laws; a sense of duty and rigorous morality.

“What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?” Kundera notes that this is not a new question. Parmenides posed it in the sixth century BC. He saw the world divided into pairs of opposites: light/darkness, fineness/coarseness etc. 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 simple except for one difficulty: which one is positive, weight or lightness? Parmenides responded that lightness is positive, weight negative. Kundera then questions “Was he correct or not?” The lightness/weight opposition remains the most ambiguous of all. Kundera then asks, should one live with weight and duty or with lightness and freedom? In Nietzschean terms, weight is life-affirming in that to live with positive intensity is to live in a way you’d be prepared to repeat. The emptiness of Sabina’s life in ‘The Unbearable Lightness Of Being’, and that she wanted to “die in lightness” — which is to say that she is indifferent to her life — shows that she would not want to repeat her life and would not accept an eternal return.

wikipedia

Would you have been the same you had things been otherwise?

PASADENA, Calif. — On a Thursday in mid-October, Flea sat in a patio chair he’d dragged down to the lawn, looking out at the green lake in his backyard. As the late-morning sun beat down on his graying skull and the tattoo-dotted arms under his Vin Scully T-shirt, he curled his battered bare toes in the grass just centimeters from an ashy fossil that was once a piece of dog waste, and began reckoning with the unanswerable:

“Like, your heart, your spirit, who you are — does it come out no matter what context you get put in?” he asked, “Or is it shaped immeasurably and irretrievably by your circumstances? I don’t know.”

He’s just written his first book, a memoir called “Acid for the Children” that’s out Nov. 5. In it he recounts how he took up bass guitar, learned to thumb and finger-pop its strings and formed a band with three high-school buddies: Hillel Slovak, Jack Irons and Anthony Kiedis. That band became the Red Hot Chili Peppers and persevered for three wild, shirtless decades, weathering the loss of members to addiction and attrition, not to mention the waning of alternative rock as a commercial force.

Flea Had a Wild Life. Then He Joined Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Alex Pappademas
nytimes

Smoke trailer

The movie is a delicate creation, with no big punch line or payoff. Watching it, I was in the moment: It was about these people wandering lost through their lives. Afterward, I felt good about them – good because they were likable people, but good, too, because the writer and director took care to give them dialogue that suited their needs. Of all the handicaps in life, the worst must be the inability to express how you feel.

Roger Ebert’s review -> https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/smoke-1995

San Francisco is losing residents because it’s too expensive for nearly everyone – USA Today

SAN FRANCISCO — Social media influencer Sarah Tripp and her husband, Robbie Tripp, moved to San Francisco in 2016 brimming with optimism.

“We thought, here’s a city full of opportunities and connections where you go to work hard and succeed,” says Tripp, 27, founder of the lifestyle blog Sassy Red Lipstick.

But after a year-long hunt for suitable housing in San Francisco only turned up “places for $1 million that looked like rundown shacks and needed a remodel,” the couple packed up and moved to Phoenix.

They went from paying San Francisco rents of $2,500 for a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment that was far from shopping and other amenities, to purchasing a newly constructed 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom home where they’ll raise their newly arrived baby boy.

“It was cool to be living near all those high-tech startups,” Tripp says of her Bay Area years. “But you quickly saw that if you weren’t part of that, you’d be pushed out. It’s just sad.”

via USA Today

Boys on the Side trailer

The very last shot in “Boys on the Side” is of an empty room. As the camera pans around it, we remember who was in it, and how much we grew to care about them. We may be a little surprised by how that happened, because the movie starts out seeming contrived and routine, and only gradually gathers power until, by the end, it is completely involving.

Ebert’s review of Boys on the Side -> https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/boys-on-the-side-1995

Kids trailer

Larry Clark’s “Kids” is a movie about their world. It follows a group of teenage boys and girls through one day and night during which they travel Manhattan on skateboards and subway trains, have sex, drink, use drugs, talk, party, and crash in a familiar stupor, before starting all over again the next day. The movie sees this culture in such flat, unblinking detail that it feels like a documentary; it knows what it’s talking about.

Roger Ebert’s Kids review -> https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/kids-1995

Frank Bruni Interview with Errol Morris Regarding Steve Bannon Doc

The Devil in Steve Bannon
The celebrated filmmaker Errol Morris has a new documentary — and candid remarks — about Donald Trump’s dyspeptic strategist.

Do you think, a couple of years from now, Bannon’s going to be this very curious footnote, this sort of one-off? Or do you think we’re going to be reckoning with what he’s peddling and what he represents for a good, long while?

I have to distinguish what I hope for versus what I really think will happen. I hope all of this is a very bad memory soon: Trump, Bannon, national populism, etc. In one respect, I do agree with Bannon. And I told him so. I grew up in the ’50s. My mother was an elementary-school teacher. My father died when I was 2, and my mother brought up my brother and myself. She took care of everybody, having practically no money, no insurance money from my father’s death.

And I often think, could she have done that today? And the answer is no. I don’t think she could have. There is greater and greater inequality, economic inequality, income and otherwise, in the United States. And I think it’s a very, very bad thing. And I think Bannon is right — that it will have terrible consequences in the long run.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/25/opinion/errol-morris-steve-bannon.html

Interesting list of Horror Movies to Check Out

Tarantino, del Toro, and More Directors Pick Favorite Horror Movies | IndieWire

Looking to watch a scary movie? Why not take a suggestion from one of the best directors working today or a master of the horror genre. IndieWire has rounded up 32 of our favorite directors naming some of their favorite horror movies ever made, from Guillermo del Toro on “Eyes Without a Face” to Martin Scorsese on “The Innocents,” Jennifer Kent on “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Jordan Peele on “Misery,” and more. Check out all 32 recommendations in the list below.

John Carpenter, on “The Exorcist”

John Carpenter’s “Halloween” was a pioneer in the slasher-film subgenre, and when it comes to the horror director’s own favorite scary movies he often singles out William Friedkin’s classic “The Exorcist.” As Carpenter told The Fader, “You know what’s scary about ‘The Exorcist’? Everyone knows what’s scary about that movie. It’s the devil. The first time I saw it, I thought, in order to be really effective, this movie requires a belief in a higher power. But since then I’ve come to appreciate it just for what it is. I watched it again recently and was surprised by how intense it is. The things that they did back then, with this little girl, they broke a bunch of taboos, my god. It’s pretty damn good.”

https://www.indiewire.com/gallery/directors-favorite-horror-movies/

Dazed and Confused Quotes

Slater: Behind every good man there is a woman, and that woman was Martha Washington, man, and everyday George would come home, she would have a big fat bowl waiting for him, man, when he come in the door, man, she was a hip, hip, hip lady, man.

Slater: Didja ever look at a dollar bill, man? There’s some spooky shit goin’ on there. And it’s green too.

Cynthia: I call it the “every other decade” theory. The 50’s were boring. The 60’s rocked. The 70’s, my god, they obviously suck. So maybe the 80s will be like, radical. I figure we’ll be in our 20’s and hey, it can’t get any worse.

Pink: All I’m saying is that if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life – remind me to kill myself.

Pink: I may play ball next fall, but I will never sign that. Now me and my loser friends are gonna head out to buy Aerosmith tickets. Top priority of the summer.

IMDB

More housing is needed, will it be built?

Here’s one take:

“Stephen, you’ve been proven right on housing, and I think you’re about to be proven even more right. The most important driver of home prices is supply and demand. And right now, there is a chronic undersupply of homes in America.”

Census Bureau data shows an average of 1.5 million homes were built each year since 1959. Yet since 2009, just 900,000 homes have been built per year. In fact, fewer homes were built in the past decade than in any decade since the ‘50s!

We have a serious housing shortage in America today. It would take less than six months to sell every existing home on the market…

The Biggest Housing Boom In History Has Just Begun
Stephen McBride, Forbes

Keith Richards on Vietnam and the Sunset Strip in the 60’s

Taking “Street Fighting Man” to the extremes, or “Gimme Shelter.” But without a doubt it was a strange generation. The weird thing is that I grew up with it, but suddenly I’m an observer instead of a participant. I watched all these guys grow up; I watched a lot of them die. When I first got to the States, I met a lot of great guys, young guys, and I had their phone numbers, and then when I got back two or three years later, I’d call them up, and he’s in a body bag from Nam. A whole lot of them got feathered out, we all know. That’s when that shit hit home with me. Hey, that great little blondie, great guitar player, real fun, we had a real good time, and the next time, gone.

Sunset Strip in the ’60s, ’64, ’65—there was no traffic allowed through it. The whole strip was filled with people, and nobody’s going to move for a car. It was almost off-limits. You hung out in the street, you just joined the mob. I remember once Tommy James, from the Shondells—six gold records and blew it all. I was trying to get up to the Whisky a Go Go in a car, and Tommy James came by. “Hey, man.” “And who are you?” “Tommy James, man.” “Crimson and Clover” still hits me. He was trying to hand out things about the draft that day. Because obviously he thought he was about to be fucking drafted. This was Vietnam War time. A lot of the kids that came to see us the first time never got back. Still, they heard the Stones up the Mekong Delta.

Richards, Keith. Life (p. 238). Little, Brown and Company.

Boston’s Carbon Emissions Goals, Climate Change

1008_climate-action-plan

Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh says the updated Climate Action Plan he’s releasing Tuesday will significantly cut carbon emissions from buildings, which account for most emissions in the city.

Among the initiatives are investing in energy saving improvements to city-owned buildings, transitioning the city’s vehicle fleet to low-emission vehicles and developing new guidelines for city-backed affordable housing projects.

WBUR

Over London by rail: 1872, Dore

gustave-dore-victorian-london-12

Over London by rail. Engraving. View of the London slums by Gustave Dore from ‘Londre a Pilgrimage’, first published in 1872. This illustration is a bird’s eye view of the slums of London, it shows the poor and overcrowed conditions in which the poor lived in Victorian times, where “There is a desperate, ferocious levity in the air… they (the poor) are the workless of a work-a day London – born in idleness to die in the workhouse, or upon bare boards.”

Museum of London

Acquainted With the Night – Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.