Monday, February 28, 2011

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Reading this book was like detonating a bomb of thoughts inside my brain, collapsing the ideological walls surrounding it…  The characters in Brothers encapsulate contrasting philosophies, worldviews, and lifestyles.  And for the sake of simplicity, I’ll categorize what each of those characters is like.  The father, Fyodor Karamazov, represents base human nature in all its nastiness, in all its selfishness, a Mr. Burns/Ebenezer Scrooge type.  The eldest brother, Dmitry Karamazov, represents those that follow the appetites and delights of the senses, a Charlie Sheen/violent party boy type.  The second brother, Ivan Karamazov, represents pure intellectualism, a Nietzsche/Joker type.  The youngest brother, Alyosha, represents radical love, a Mother Teresa type.  And the story centers on the interactions among these characters.

I tend to place a hyper emphasis upon the power of the intellect.  I revere it almost to the point of deification.  And so meeting Ivan within the pages of the Brothers was just an invigorating mental experience.  His maniacal eloquence mesmerized me.  His philosophy is based on the idea that “everything is permitted” and that was appealing to me, but translating that philosophy into actuality (which is an aspect of philosophy that very much concerns Dostoevsky) would most likely bring forth a world governed by chaos and regulated by madness.  That is a world the Joker would probably enjoy.  I’m not so sure I would enjoy such a place, given the selfish nature of man as personified in Fyodor.

In the Author’s Preface, Dostoevsky describes Alyosha as his hero, but he writes that “he is by no means a great man,” and that intrigued me.  As I got to know Aloysha, he seemed to be such a gentle, loving person, nothing like epic heroes such as Odysseus, Joan of Arc, Sundiata etc.  Alyosha doesn’t say too many profound things, and his actions aren’t overtly astounding, but they’re heartfelt, and in a subtle way, powerful.  He’s surrounded by this crazy family, and they’re horrible in the way that they treat others, and so he does his best to bring peace and harmony into his family, and also into the world around him.  He responds to everything, praises or insults, love or hate, with kindness, patience, and compassion…  A significant portion of my life has been dedicated to the relentless pursuit of mental strength, and in my efforts it seems that I’ve been trying to reach for something I can’t quite grasp, but after reading the Brothers I came to the realization that even though this world has a need for the intellect, it has a greater need for love - the kind of self sacrificing love exhibited by Alyosha.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Introduction

Who am I, but a mere mortal of flesh and blood?  I don’t possess special powers.  I can’t perform miracles.  I can barely adhere to the standards of normal human behavior.  I have nothing to offer, but myself, pure and simple…  I am baffled as to why the universe in all its intricacies and complexities has fated that I, an archaic relic of a man, should be present at this plane of existence we refer to as life on earth in the 21st century.  And now that destiny has led me here, there’s no other choice, but to be.