Heilkunst in Literature : The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I’ve been enjoying listening to narrated audio books, which have re-connected me back to a love for literature which I generally don’t have time to read amongst all the non-fiction studies I do. I recently listened to the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which is a book I had read a number of years ago, but now was able to see through a Heilkunst lens.

The first striking Heilkunst element of this novel is the relationship between the two primary characters, as expressed through their genotypes – Tomas, the perfect image of Lycopodium, and Tereza as a Pulsatilla. Tomas is the quintessential womanizer, who cannot understand why society has artificially joined together the concepts of love and sex. His scalpel-sharp intellect neatly cleaves these two concepts from each other, allowing them to exist independently of each other in his life. Against his own principles, he does fall in love with Tereza, yet he cannot stop himself from having as many love affairs as possible, which torments Tereza throughout their relationship. One of the challenges of the Pulsatilla constitution is that they may hold on to a relationship even past the point where they should.

The novel is very well written, and addresses a number of themes, especially related to the aftermath in the Czech society after the Soviet invasion of 1968. To live under such a controlled society brings out some of the worst in some of the characters, and the author uses that as a central meditation for understanding what their inner struggles are.

Under any form of constraining government, anyones character structure will be pushed into further conflict within itself, and a range of unhealthy behaviours will result. Tomas loses his career as a surgeon out of refusing to rescind an article he published in a newspaper which was critical of the regime, and lives out the remainder of his life as a window washer, and then as a farm hand. In terms of his character structure, he is a Phallic Narcissistic type, which means that he is perpetually driven to try to obtain a genital release with “anything in a skirt”, but the discharge is never complete, and the manic cycle perpetuates.

Film and literature often provide some of the best living images of particular constitutional types, as well as character types. The nature of good art is that it reaches into the truth of life, and presents it in condensed, easy-to-digest forms. Which film or literature characters have cemented into your mind as such clear examples?

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