Food for thought


French philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky launches new book focusing on the concept of lightness that has taken our lives by storm. We move, think, act and interact light, detached and distracted but also ultimately and hopefully savant and serene, closer to the ideal of happiness of the antique.

After focusing on contemporary individualism, consumerism, luxury or hypermodernity French Philosopher comes back to haunt us with his reflections on yet another contemporary trend. “Of lightness” is the possible translation of his new book “De la légèreté” where the author refers to this nerve net of lightness that “has invaded our common practices and reshaped our imagination”. From the age of respectable heavy equipment we have moved to a new standard of light and, mini portable devices and to a new concept of lightness no longer deprived of value as in the days of ore when rather what was heavy was synonym of respectable. We are before a new dynamics where lightness “despised and minimised for long now gains a positive value. Lightness is no longer associated to vice, but rather to mobility, to virtual, to respect for the environment”, the author writes, further adding that: “This is the time of the lightness revenge, an admired lightness, desired, capturing dreams, bringing both promises but also terrible menaces.”


The word light and lightness brings us often to the idea of frivolous. But one of the most remarkable aspects of Lipovetsky thinking in all his work is the way he brings new light to issues that have always been there, bringing a new light to it. And amidst the references to the different types of lightness the one that stands out for us is that of lightness-wisdom whereby lightness is not just synonym of frivolity of moving ahead always on the lookout for new pleasures. “The archetype of frivolity can be confronted with that of lightness-serenity, bringing us closer to the ideal of the antique of happiness as defined by ataraxy, a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety”. Once again Lipovetsky brings substantial food for thought by dealing with and apparent frivolous subject, a book worth reading in this world “where the transformations of our collective and individual life illustrates in a different manner the power of lightness, in a state of rupture with the first modernity – strict, moralist, conventional – affirming a second ‘liquid’ and flexible modernity”.

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