Paradoxical Dostoevsky by Gary Saul Morson

If Dostoevsky has ever flashed through your mind as an interest, I highly recommend giving the article Paradoxical Dostoevsky by Gary Saul Morson; one of the most eloquent and illustrative pieces I have read written about Dostoevsky. And for my own purposes, it creates a phenomenal stepping stone for comparing Dostoevsky and Nietzsche in a new and playful manner.

To any reader of Dostoevsky’s the presence of paradox is difficult to miss. As Morson notes, a great deal of the time Dostoevsky will narrate what happens by articulating what does not happen, or by listing all the potential possibilities because he himself had not planned how the story would end, so he set himself up for as many possibilities as he could.

It’s almost as though Dostoevsky was playing chess with language whenever he wrote. At the beginning of the text/game, there are many potential moves, and as good chess players know, it’s important to go through all of these potential moves in one’s mind in order to be prepared for whatever your opponent offers. And in this case, Dostoevsky is merely playing chess against himself.

The paradoxes in Dostoevsky are the diving board from which Nietzsche will dive into the abyss, only to find that Dostoevsky is already down there. (Morson even relates the notion of eternal recurrence to Dostoevsky) The humor in Dostoevsky is not as easily found as it is in Nietzsche (although the laughter and pity in Nietzsche have been overlooked until recently). Whether or not it has to do with translations and differing cultural humor is unclear, but if anything the paradoxes should be the first to send the reader into a chuckle.

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now what is the word for it?

the word rings like a summers bird
at 4:33 in
the morning
right before gulls will leave and bird may migrate

if they so choose.
sleep comes to those who know what to expect
what is just as it should be.
a shoulder is only a shoulder if it’s there.

a bed is a bed only if it’s comfy.
no. not if it’s comfy. that pays no matter, it’s
broke now
of course.
one is too
one is too
one is just right
said the locks
on the doors

working at a call center

call center

At every moment you can feel yourself slowly dying. That’s not depressing, that’s just how it is. But environment and your perception of said environment affects the degree to which one feels this inevitable decomposition.

On a balcony staring at green treetops, pleased with the illusion of a luscious jungle despite the fact that the sky doesn’t look quite right enough for the tropics. You’re still a little bored, still a little anxious and unsure of what to do with your time and yourself. But you remember the possibilities of picking up a book or even writing about this very anxiety and displacement

Displacement is interesting; it comes with the assumption that there is somewhere where the feeling of displacement is minimal, perhaps even nonexistent.

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Chess and 3 and 6


Chess is almost more about composure. Don’t let on when you’ve made a mistake. Don’t let on when you’ve thought things through. Don’t make a move too quickly otherwise it’s too easy to know what you’ve been thinking. Most of the game is a poker face, but not too much. It’s about the in between of the game. That’s why a chess board goes back and forth between black and white.

How you play chess against someone represents how you think of interactions w them playing out. You think in either short term or long term. Because it’s what matters in that instance. That’s the problem. If it’s the short term you want you’re anxious. Impulsive. Long term, you’re apathetic, more decisive because there’s a need to show off almost. We either focus on instances or this “long term” “short term”; the variables. There’s a reason the variable in mathematics is what is considered unknown. Because the variables are abstract and interchangeable. The endgame is what is most interesting.

6 pieces. 6 modal configurations according to David Zilberman. 6 days to create the Universe according to the Bible.

Bad things happen in 3’s.
Good things happen in 3’s.

3 and 6 have always been such intriguing numbers. Something to ponder during my “spare” time. Because it’d be foolish to say that I have just enough time. Oh no. I certainly have extra over what I already have, the value of which I do not know.

under what definition shall we call these lines?

the levels of apathy are at astronomical levels. it’s almost as though the alliteration makes it tolerable. oops. there went the alliteration.

asking three times. it’s always three times. sometimes the going back and forth is the most frustrating thing. but then again, i’ve spent so much time in absolutes, that it only makes sense that the movement is inherently frustrating. the difficulty part is something that is not only difficult, but is difficult to articulate and difficult to know what to do with such a difficulty. it’d be nice to sleep for a few weeks.

sailors fighting in the dance hall.
take a look at the law man beating up the wrong guy

those lines always make me think of clockwork orange. not entirely sure why.

we know failures aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be. we know that we must relish the failures in lieu of successes. but what do we do with these failures? where do we put them? how do we juggle them? do we throw them up into the air and let them drop like cannonballs upon our skulls one by one?

smile when there is no reaction, when there is no idea of what the reaction should be.

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A Perspective on a Perspective on the Perspectives of Tolstoy

There lies a certain difficulty in writing the biography of any one person; one must create a cohesive narrative, from beginning to end, describing the life of this person, and perhaps even attempt to describe the thoughts of this person that may have led to any particular action. When there is so much information at one’s disposal, there’s almost a compulsion not only to connect all the dots in the lifetime, but also to try to attach cause and effect to all of them; and therein lies the problem. It’s almost ironic that in War and Peace Tolstoy wrote about the difficulties in recognizing between freedom and necessity, cause and effect, and this is one of the greatest difficulties his biographers face. However, the initial assumption of cohesion is one of the issues that Tolstoy points at, yet biographers and historians fail to take into account. The idea that he was one person before the religious ‘breakdown’ and then became another person assumes a cohesive whole person at both points in his life. But isn’t one of the greatest struggles of human life to think and act cohesively in the world; isn’t every human already split within himself?

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy may be one of the most fascinating people to write a biography on not only because of the immense disposal of autobiographical and biographical data, but because Tolstoy’s life story doesn’t have the subtle incohesion of most human lives. His schism is as almost as paramount as Raskolnikov’s in Crime and Punishment. In his biography of Tolstoy’s, Wilson notes that while the progression from “artist to sage or holy man […] was a fairly common phenomena among Russian writers”[1], the pattern of Tolstoy’s life followed this to such an exaggerated length that “it is very hard not to think of his life as falling into two distinct halves, divided by the publication of Anna Karenina[2]. And it’s interesting that Wilson admits that;

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