On the burden of an unbearably light existence

Miroslav Volf says people feel like camels and long to be lions.



Miroslav Volf says people feel like camels and long to be lions.


Well you know it’s a combination of the quotes from Nietzsche, from [The] Gay Science, and then the play on the title from Milan Kundera’s work [The] Unbearable Lightness of [Being], who obviously echoes some of Nietzsche’s kinds of concerns. And I think the burden of the unbearably light existence is a kind of a sense that, no matter what we choose and what we do, how we live, it ultimately does not make any difference. And all the values and everything that we do is kind of arbitrary and therefore very, very light.

I think what people have done with it and the reason why many people find this attractive – the wiping the horizon of transcendence – is because they think of transcendence as coming down, bearing upon them with the weight of its demands. And so they are (again to echo Nietzsche) they’re like camels, they are forced to bear burdens that somebody else has imposed upon them, and then they long to become again, like Nietzsche says, the lions that kind of roar and throw off all that burden and kind of live completely freely, unencumbered by values that somebody else has imposed upon them.

And so there is this kind of oscillation between on the one hand the burden of the values that one has to bear in the ways of living, and the burden of, kind of impossibility of living with [the] arbitrariness of our own lives. And to me that indicated, or that was an indication or suggested that we need to look for ways in which we can affirm transcendent values while at the same time holding onto enjoyment of [the] ordinary things of life. That’s possible to do.