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.