All artful designs have two distinct histories: a personal history and an object-oriented history. For instance, Mozart believed that the Requiem was ordered especially for his own death, so it’s not hard to imagine the inner struggle that he had when he wrote it. On the other hand, the structure, the vocal parts, and the D minor scale are part of Mozart’s objective choice. Overwhelmed by the burden of his deafness, Beethoven introduces in the last movement of the 135 quartet the “Es muss sein” (It must be) dialogue which, due to its repetitions, creates the sensation of anxiety that you experience when you are facing a very difficult decision. Beethoven himself notes above the score “Grave” and then “Allegro”, showing probably the way in which the human being is preparing for its passing.
My personal history with this image that I am presenting today begins many years ago in the train route between Iasi city and Timisoara city. “Trivial! It’s above trivial!” – you may say at first glance. It was the second year of my student life in Cluj city and I have just discovered Milan Kundera from whom I also borrowed the title for this piece. I perfectly recall that moment! It was just in the beginning of Spring and the locomotive was splitting up a meadow freshly painted green. Life started to pulse again with intensity through the thin and fragile wheat which was bending delicately in the morning breeze. The eternal return, a mysterious concept with which Nietzsche put in difficulty a lot of philosophers. For the wheat, this happens over and over again every Spring of every year. If it would not grow every year, life would resemble a shadow and the magnificent process of turning the wheat into bread would be useless if life would not have the heaviness of revival. The thought that human existence could follow the same cyclic course completely stunned me. This would mean that every second of our life would be endlessly repeated, we would remain captive into eternity and each gesture would bare the heaviness of a great and obnoxious burden. Based on the lack of repeatability, human life has a lack of heaviness, and so, by negation, it becomes light as air. By all means we can wonder why is it that heaviness is awful and lightness, wonderful? Parmenides believed that light is positive and heavy is negative, so the value of gold is given by its weight, as the value of the being is given by its lightness?!
Meanwhile, the train has stopped in Turda city. The travelers are nervously climbing the narrow stairs of the wagon. The same scene repeats itself over and over again at each of the train’s stops. The same fuss, the same grabbing of the stair’s dirty banister with a clenched hand. As the German saying “Einmal ist keinmal”, meaning “once does not count”, it’s like it never even existed. What would it be if the train that I’m on would only stop one time and then it would go continuously until the end of the railroad? This very odd thing came through my mind on the spot, as humans live and think spontaneously, without any anticipation. It’s just like now, as I am writing these words: thoughts go through my mind one after another, letters burst suddenly out of my keyboard. But what would have happened if I would have had a draft of my train ride or one of this entire story that I am telling you about right now? Would I have told it a little bit better, perhaps? I would have picked better words. Maybe I would have eliminated some of the sentences and replaced them with other ones…
Questions! Too many questions!
It’s 8 o’clock in the morning and I am sitting here writing for about 40 minutes. My coffee has gotten cold, I already smoked three cigarettes and I’ll light up one more in a minute. The same thing happened yesterday morning… I’m rereading the last paragraph. Again, and again. What was I thinking? Who cares that my coffee’s cold and how many cigars did I smoke? I realize that without this “draft” my life would have no background, my life would be like a concept without a frame because strangely, the repeatability gives me the heaviness that I need to start each day.
About today’s image. Dürer, Caravaggio and Rembrandt represented in such a glorious matter are watching the show of the lightness of being from afar, just like a puppeteer glances into the box where the show that he created is taking place.
The audience knows that it’s all a stunt, that above the box you find the puppeteer and he’s the creator, the director and the conductor of all his character’s lives. The audience also knows that the puppets are lifeless if their creator doesn’t move his fingers, and the puppet’s gesture is a translation of the creator’s movement. Puppets talk when their creator desires and they mimic his voice exactly. Anyone from the audience can, at any given moment, reach and grab the most unpleasant puppet, throw it on the floor and bash its head. Although, no one does that because there is a fourth wall, an imaginary one, which makes the action from the box take place in a certain spot and at a certain time. From this we can assume that for the viewer, the show and the magic around it is much more important than the Truth.
The scenery is poor and almost plain. It’s an empty room with high walls and sand on the ground. The windows are placed symmetrically which separates the space in three identical surfaces. The two verticals delimiting the subject serve the purpose of emphasizing the stillness and the lack of dynamism of the décor. The feminine body caught underwater in a complete weightless state is placed on the ascending diagonal, breaking the stillness of the verticals. I imagined that the floating of the body in a gravitational universe would not be less than glorious. The lightness of being is portrayed in the body’s reflection in the thin layer of the surface of the water, which separates what is Here from the enigmatic Beyond. Half of the face is hidden from our sight but we can suppose that her eyes are contemplating on a truth that is far from our imagination. The perpendiculars which start from the rectangle’s corners and which intersect the ascending and descending diagonals are setting the boundaries of two proportionality studies made by Dürer which are engraved on the wall.
The viewpoint in racursi or contre-plonjé suggests the viewer’s in reversed perspective and he becomes a live participant, meaning he is part of the image, counter parting the other three viewers watching from the windows. Due to this perspective, the viewer and the main character become small, almost Lilliputians, in opposition to the other three painters. Therefore, I thought of a double paradigmatic reinterpretation: one of the inversion between the viewer and the actor and one of the representation of shapes in space.
Only now, at this very moment in my storytelling, I can easily confess that the lightness of being as I imagined it in the train overlaps out life’s purpose. This purpose, as it is discovered step by step, loads the being with a heaviness that is easier to bare than its counterpart, the lightness.