DescriptionWhenever I read a new author, I find ways to fit that information into how I see the world. I ask myself how does this work with that, how do things contradict each other.
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Whenever I read a new author, I find ways to fit that information into how I see the world. I ask myself how does this work with that, how do things contradict each other. I ask myself, is there something of this, I might have intuitively known before, something I felt but couldn't place a name on. I do this out of respect for the authors. They've written this thing, that other people found important enough to make it last for decades, centuries even. I find that utterly and truly fascinating about books. Because surely being able to involve so many people into the publishing the printing the constant re-editing and selling and buying and reading of your books, it must mean something. All those essays and term papers and even doctoral theses, whole books about books. At the same time I feel grateful for those bits and pieces of information reaching me at all. I arrange them in a neat little picture. Replace them whenever an old one cracks, or a weak one loosens up and falls off the paper. That's the easy part, I can understand people enjoying something enough to preserve it. Dostoevsky on the other hand, by that same very logic, should have been destroyed. I don't feel the same way about Dostoevsky that I feel about most authors. There's no respect just as there is no respect for the truck that hits you. You feel the front bumper smash into you then you feel the ground come crashing from below and maybe not even that, you just wake up in a hospital all bandaged up, and you've no idea who you are or how you ended up here. But that's not the right metaphor. The first thing that comes to mind usually is right. Dostoevsky's Notes From the Underground feels like reading your own obituary. That's me, that's how I felt about it immediately as I was reading it. I felt devastated, cheated by my own nature, my own common sense. It's never a pleasant experience to find out what you thought was rational, was indeed reactionary, instinctive, self-destructive, above all that, the most despised of all - trivial. More than that hundreds of years old. Like who you are in the most basic, to the core, is hundreds of years old. In every sense completely, irreversibly dead. Because if you're like me, you can't be content. You can't compromise, it's either the best or nothing, the best or no-one. At last when it comes to evaluating yourself, finding a fault in yourself as gargantuan as that, you'd better believe you have died and start over. Cause if you had to go through all the mediocrity in life, a thousand lives would not be enough. That's me. That's who I am. And Dostoevsky should have been destroyed, like they put down dogs that bite, instead it was preserved like a truck that killed someone. Books work like that as well. You call books things, well I've learned to call them acts - good books seduce you, the greatest books kill you after they've raped you - make you want to look back at you and feel sorry for who you were, the kind of sorry people who've really suffered despise to the bottom of their hearts, look at you and know you have nothing to say to yourself that would mean anything at all just the standard stuff, look at you and know you can't fix you. The way you see all those junkies and quadriplegics third degree burn victims and sufferers of every horrible debilitating disfiguring life-ending disease, and their white knights, who in the end learn that they can't fix one another, but will have to learn to live with each other the way they are, or not. If you've never read Dostoevsky, you might ask me here, what is so special about it? If you've read the first few pages of The Brothers Karamazov and left it surely you won't be convinced. Well it's simple really. All Dostoevsky does in Notes From the Underground is in the most compelling way imaginable, in the most personal and profound manner ask a single question: "What have you got to show for it?" And it feels like the whole world asking. The earth the sky all the trees and birds and all the things that exist, all that asking demanding. No way to avoid who you are. No way to avoid the question of whether you are someone at all, whether you've lived at all, loved anyone been loved back, whether you lie to yourself or not. You can't avoid asking yourself the question of are you alive this very moment. Demand an explanation. Or is your whole life just a way of waiting to see what's going to happen next. And when you stop feeling sorry for yourself, when you look yourself in the face, look at the scars without any shame of your own incompetence to heal yourself and either accept it or walk away, for the first time it feels as though someone out there might be able to really - love - you.