Notes from…


Dostoevsky Notes from Underground:

Chapter 6

Oh, if I were doing nothing only out of laziness. Lord, how I’d respect myself then. Respect myself precisely because I’d at least be capable of having laziness in me; there would be in me at least one, as it were, positive quality, which I myself could be sure of. Question: who is he? Answer: a lazybones. Now, it would be most agreeable to hear that about myself. It means I’m positively defined; it means there’s something to say about me.”Lazybones!” – now, that is a title and a mission, it’s a career, sirs. No joking, it really is. By rights I’m then a member of the foremost club, and my sole occupation is ceaselessly respecting myself. I knew a gentleman who prided himself all his life on being a fine judge of Lafite. He regarded it as his positive merit and never doubted himself. He died not merely with a serene but with a triumphant conscience, and he was perfectly right. And so I would choose a career for myself: I would be a lazybones and a glutton, and not just an ordinary one, but, for example, one sympathizing with everything beautiful and lofty. How do you like that? I’ve long been fancying it. This “beautiful and lofty” has indeed weighed heavy on my head in my forty years; but that’s my forty years, while then – oh, then it would be different! I would at once find an appropriate activity for myself – namely, drinking the health of all that is beautiful and lofty. I would seize every occasion, first to shed a tear into my glass, and then to drink it for all that is beautiful and lofty. I would then turn everything in the world into the beautiful and lofty; in the vilest, most unquestionable trash I would discover the beautiful and lofty. I’d become as tearful as a sodden sponge. An artist, for example, has painted a Ge picture. [10] I immediately drink the health of the artist who has painted the Ge picture, because I love all that is beautiful and lofty. An author has written “as anyone pleases” ; [11] I immediately drink the health of “anyone who pleases,” because I love all that is “beautiful and lofty.” For this I’ll demand to be respected, I’ll persecute whoever does not show me respect. I live peacefully, I die solemnly – why, this is charming, utterly charming! And I’d grow myself such a belly then, I’d fashion such a triple chin for myself, I’d fix myself up such a ruby nose that whoever came along would say, looking at me: “Now, there’s a plus! There’s a real positive!” And, think what you will, it’s most agreeable to hear such comments in our negative age, gentlemen.

Tolstoy’s real hero

What Tolstoy wrote in the final (typically Tolstoyan) sentence of his second “Sebastopol Sketch” (1855) could serve equally as a statement of his motives in writing War and Peace:

No, the hero of my story, whom I love with all my heart and soul, whom I have attempted to portray in all his beauty and who has always been, is now and will always be supremely supremely magnificent, is truth.11

Pope Francis: People have yet to learn that war is madness, indifference a sin

“When will we learn this lesson?” he asked, telling people to look at the crucified Christ “to understand that hatred and evil are defeated with forgiveness and good, and to understand that responding with war only augments evil and death.”