Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment selected passages:
I only believe in my leading idea that men are in general divided by a law of nature into two categories, inferior (ordinary), that is, so to say, material that serves only to reproduce its kind, and men who have the gift or the talent to utter a new word. There are, of course, innumerable sub-divisions, but the distinguishing features of both categories are fairly well marked. The first category, generally speaking, are men conservative in temperament and law-abiding; they live under control and love to be controlled. To my thinking it is their duty to be controlled, because that's their vocation, and there is nothing humiliating in it for them. The second category all transgress the law; they are destroyers or disposed to destruction according to their capacities. The crimes of these men are of course relative and varied; for the most part they seek in very varied ways the destruction of the present for the sake of the better. But if such a one is forced for the sake of his idea to step over a corpse or wade through blood, he can, I maintain, find within himself, in his conscience, a sanction for wading through blood—that depends on the idea and its dimensions, note that. It's only in that sense I speak of their right to crime in my article (you remember it began with the legal question). There's no need for such anxiety, however; the masses will scarcely ever admit this right, they punish them or hang them (more or less), and in doing so fulfil quite justly their conservative vocation. But the same masses set these criminals on a pedestal in the next generation and worship them (more or less). The first category is always the man of the present, the second the man of the future. The first preserve the world and people it, the second move the world and lead it to its goal. Each class has an equal right to exist. In fact, all have equal rights with me—and vive la guerre éternelle—till the New Jerusalem, of course!"
But tell me this: how do you distinguish those extraordinary people from the ordinary ones? Are there signs at their birth? I feel there ought to be more exactitude, more external definition. Excuse the natural anxiety of a practical law-abiding citizen, but couldn't they adopt a special uniform, for instance, couldn't they wear something, be branded in some way? For you know if confusion arises and a member of one category imagines that he belongs to the other, begins to 'eliminate obstacles' as you so happily expressed it, then..."
"Oh, that very often happens! That remark is wittier than the other."
"No reason to; but take note that the mistake can only arise in the first category, that is among the ordinary people (as I perhaps unfortunately called them). In spite of their predisposition to obedience very many of them, through a playfulness of nature, sometimes vouchsafed even to the cow, like to imagine themselves advanced people, 'destroyers,' and to push themselves into the 'new movement,' and this quite sincerely. Meanwhile the really new people are very often unobserved by them, or even despised as reactionaries of grovelling tendencies. But I don't think there is any considerable danger here, and you really need not be uneasy for they never go very far. Of course, they might have a thrashing sometimes for letting their fancy run away with them and to teach them their place, but no more; in fact, even this isn't necessary as they castigate themselves, for they are very conscientious: some perform this service for one another and others chastise themselves with their own hands.... They will impose various public acts of penitence upon themselves with a beautiful and edifying effect; in fact you've nothing to be uneasy about.... It's a law of nature."
"Well, you have certainly set my mind more at rest on that score; but there's another thing worries me. Tell me, please, are there many people who have the right to kill others, these extraordinary people? I am ready to bow down to them, of course, but you must admit it's alarming if there are a great many of them, eh?"
"Oh, you needn't worry about that either," Raskolnikov went on in the same tone. "People with new ideas, people with the faintest capacity for saying something new, are extremely few in number, extraordinarily so in fact. One thing only is clear, that the appearance of all these grades and sub-divisions of men must follow with unfailing regularity some law of nature. That law, of course, is unknown at present, but I am convinced that it exists, and one day may become known. The vast mass of mankind is mere material, and only exists in order by some great effort, by some mysterious process, by means of some crossing of races and stocks, to bring into the world at last perhaps one man out of a thousand with a spark of independence. One in ten thousand perhaps—I speak roughly, approximately—is born with some independence, and with still greater independence one in a hundred thousand. The man of genius is one of millions, and the great geniuses, the crown of humanity, appear on earth perhaps one in many thousand millions. In fact I have not peeped into the retort in which all this takes place. But there certainly is and must be a definite law, it cannot be a matter of chance."
Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth," he added dreamily, not in the tone of the conversation.
"What for? Because you can't remain like this, that's why! You must look things straight in the face at last, and not weep like a child and cry that God won't allow it. What will happen, if you should really be taken to the hospital to-morrow? She is mad and in consumption, she'll soon die and the children? Do you mean to tell me Polenka won't come to grief? Haven't you seen children here at the street corners sent out by their mothers to beg? I've found out where those mothers live and in what surroundings. Children can't remain children there! At seven the child is vicious and a thief. Yet children, you know, are the image of Christ: 'theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.' He bade us honour and love them, they are the humanity of the future...."
You see I kept asking myself then: why am I so stupid that if others are stupid—and I know they are—yet I won't be wiser? Then I saw, Sonia, that if one waits for everyone to get wiser it will take too long.... Afterwards I understood that that would never come to pass, that men won't change and that nobody can alter it and that it's not worth wasting effort over it. Yes, that's so. That's the law of their nature, Sonia,... that's so!... And I know now, Sonia, that whoever is strong in mind and spirit will have power over them. Anyone who is greatly daring is right in their eyes. He who despises most things will be a lawgiver among them and he who dares most of all will be most in the right! So it has been till now and so it will always be."
...I wanted to murder without casuistry, to murder for my own sake, for myself alone! I didn't want to lie about it even to myself. It wasn't to help my mother I did the murder—that's nonsense—I didn't do the murder to gain wealth and power and to become a benefactor of mankind. Nonsense! I simply did it; I did the murder for myself, for myself alone, and whether I became a benefactor to others, or spent my life like a spider catching men in my web and sucking the life out of men, I couldn't have cared at that moment.... And it was not the money I wanted, Sonia, when I did it. It was not so much the money I wanted, but something else.... I know it all now.... Understand me! Perhaps I should never have committed a murder again. I wanted to find out something else; it was something else led me on. I wanted to find out then and quickly whether I was a louse like everybody else or a man. Whether I can step over barriers or not, whether I dare stoop to pick up or not, whether I am a trembling creature or whether I have the right..."
More posts from this category: Altruism, egoism and activism (video)Nightly ramblings on life, suffering, death and dying (oh, goodie!) :P
So they did subtitles I see. I've known of those series, couldn't make myself to watch them. Watched a bit of The Idiot then stopped. Wasn't too bad, actually, mitght try again later but I haven't read the book, only some quotes from it.
Watched Dostoyevsky's 'Demons' series, they're made in a more modern way, interesting sound and visual effects, atmosphere, but, as could be expected, nothing too profound. The book focuses a lot on the poltics, and the series is more about relationships - something most people dig. So meh.
But I did like War and Peace a lot. I think they might have a subtitled DVD on Amazon, Youtube only has unsubbed versions, unfortunately. Damn, I can't imagine finishing a book of that size! One must be locked up doing time to want to start reading a fat long story like War and Peace
But then, aren't we all?..))
I'm the same, I hate when there are lots of charachters you have to remember by name, especially when it's a Russian book of those times when they preferred calling people by their first name and a patronymic. I almost want to have a cheatsheet with charachters and their short descriptions. Because patronymic names are basically all the same, surnames can be memorable, but these are basically just one a more common first name (which was the person's father's name).
I also listen to audiobooks, can simultaneously play a game or do manicure or something else. That's how I read Crime and Punishment and A Hero of Our Time (Lermontov).
Oh I know what Idiot is about, opting for an audiobook is probably best. If I like that one too much then I might watch a movie and complain about how it distorts the point. I've seen this quote in the book, actually, don't know how I came across it, but it was about an exectution and a horror of awaiting death, it was just spot on.
But what I hate is reading through a whole book to find gems like that, I've never been to big a fan of fiction in general. But Dostoyevsky is such a good psychologist and a philosopher that he makes reading his fiction quite interesting, it is rich in deep stuff. While Turgenev - at least from the novel I've read (On the Eve) - is mostly feelings, emotions and very scarce existential ponderings, so it's a little boring for me. Although he's good at his own style, everything rang true, only it wasn't my thing. Emotional dramas of relationships between men and women almost always bore me, maybe because I've been through so many of my own for years, since I was a teen, and I payed a lot of attention to every thought and emotion from the start that I don't think there's much that can be revealing or intriguing or exciting to me in that sphere.
Ha! Reminded me of a joke I've seen on FB lately, it read like "Me and my husband must be getting old. We bought this porn dvd, watched it and got really impressed with how the kitchen was done, what great carpet the living room had and how nice a marble floor in the bathroom looks like".
Soap operas to me is like a different kind of porn: all the same moves, all the basic "gestures". So they met. Ok, so now he's having this emotion and she's feeling that emotion, and now things turn this way and of course, predictably, she's going through this and he's experiencing that. Freaking boring. Die already. LoL.
A narcissist Pechorin, weird and too sweet Myshkin, Raskolnikov the killer - that's interesting, that's something a little out of odinary. All existential musings are out of ordinary because they are hard to come by in the real world, at least those that are deep and coherent and not just brain farts that people think are sudden 'insights' revealing them the final truth that doesn't require further analysis
Oh and the grimmest and most realistic ever description of the fear of dying is in Tolstoy's "Death of Ivan Illich". Freaking hell. Details, psychological nuances of what's going in the heads of the dying man and his family... wow. But very tough to read.
I knew you'd appreciate the read more closer to the middle of the book. Certainly the main hero isn't very cute, but I like that Tolstoy chose to depict an average, boring man, who follows the predictable, mainstream path all his life and only before his last moments starts wondering, what was all this shit about.
But I have seen it in friends and others, a classical relationship doesn't seem to be something worth striving for at all, at least for me. Seems to be more of a semi-psychotic compulsive disorder (the non-technical term is 'romantic love' - romantized lechery in reality), two people driving each other and themselves nuts (at least sooner or later)
Yeah well it's a tough one. From my today's perspective it's more often than not - not worth it. But some people just can't handle being alone, as in, not paired with anybody into a couple. Psychologists today are speaking more and more often of 'love addiction', indeed sort of a compulsion, being perceived as 'love' (good luck defining that, btw :P). More often than not in romantic love I see the play-out of childhood traumas, attachment issues stemming from bad parenting (and most parents fuck up their kids in one way or another because there's no parenting school, everybody is an amateur).
Finally, statistics show that if a person is murdered it is most often their spouse or a love partner that is responsible - that should tell you something about the kind of cocktail we call 'love'.