creative [kree-ey-tiv]: adjective. Synonyms: clever, cool, innovative, inspired, prolific, stimulating.

criticism [krit-uh-siz-uhm]: noun. The act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.

20 May 2010

Blogging Notes From Underground (Part 1: 1-3)

Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Whose name I keep reading (thanks selective dyslexia!) into "Dostoyvesky".
Anyways, so far I have just started to read Notes From Underground, and MAN am I confused. I've even started taking notes as I read, which is pretty crazy when you consider that I'm only reading it "for fun". Oh well, I want to sort-of understand what's going on; and I'm sure I'm not alone in this confusion, so here is the spoiler-riffic (if such a thing can be said about an existentialist book) and what-the-heck-is-going-on first post in this miniseries of confusion.

Part 1. The Underground.
So the narrator is a 40-year-old sick man, who refuses treatment for whatever his condition is out of pigheadedness. So far so good: he talks about what he used to do with his life. He was a civil servant, and was rude to people on purpose, for no reason really, and he did this indifferently, without a real passion for anger.
He doesn't like the idea of anyone living over forty years old.
Also, he lives in St Petersburg, even though it is bad for his health and he can only live shabbily there (thanks to the 6000 rubles he inherited, which prompted him to leave the civil service. Bear in mind, this was during the late 19th century; but 6000 rubles does NOT sound like a lot of money. At all.). He feels that leaving the city won't make a difference in any way.

To think too much is a disease, and men of action are not men of intellectual activity. Men of education, meanwhile, have four times their level of consciousness, and to think too much is a disease (ok, we got it): the more the narrator was aware of what was right, the more he did the opposite. This he was ashamed of, but he'd take pleasure from his own "degradation" and his knowledge of the fact that even if he could, he would not want to change. Consolation is knowing how much of a scoundrel you are, and you can find pleasure in despair.
The narrator always thought of himself as cleverer than everyone else, and has felt quite ashamed of it. He's also against the whole "forgive and forget" attitude, because you can't forgive the laws of nature (they don't care), and you can't forget an affront.

This begins with bemusement about people who manage to stand up for themselves, for their rights. There are two kinds of people in the world: men of action, who do things and go straight for their goals and STOP when there's a "wall"; and men of thought, who think about stuff, don't do anything and see "walls" as challenges. Perhaps everyone ought to be stupid, and be doers instead of thinkers?
Doers, when slighted, will immediately and passionately seek revenge; thinkers, in the same situation, will be filled with fury but won't do anything, and their outrage at this affront will stay with them and fester. Doers consider their revenge to be justice, while thinkers can see that there is no justice in their seeking revenge. Perhaps the pleasure derived from shame begins with a desire for revenge that comes from the festering resentment of the thinking man who never takes action to ease his desire for revenge?
There is no point in arguing against facts of nature, such as "that you are descended from an ape" (DarWIN!), and "twice two is mathematics; twice two is four".

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