Archive | July, 2015

Have you read Notes from Underground?

23 Jul

Bear with me, Readers. I read this book not too recently, and thus my memory of what precisely happens it’s quite vague. However, if I decided to make a review of it it’s because I do remember it is quite a powerful book, for it left a lingering existentialist question in my soul, that I yet have to answer today. And you know a book it’s really good when you remember the sensation, despite the oblivion shrouding your memory…

It’s really pointless to give a description of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s life and persona. There’s a reason why he’s so famous, both in Russia and around the globe: he’s one of the best novelists ever in the whole literature history! Introducing him would be quite…nonsensical. However, some background will help us unravel a bit more of the philosophy behind his work. But beware: it won’t be a happy.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Vasily Perov - Портрет Ф.М.Достоевского - Google Art Project.jpg
Dostoyevsky lived in the 19th century, and had quite a rough childhood with his religious family. As he grew up, he joined a merry group of socialists that, as you can expect, was eventually disbanded, arrested and sentenced to death by the government in turn. But because God knew our dear Fyodor would do a terrific job at writing, He decided to change his fate and modify at last minute his sentence to another merry trip of forced hard labour at Siberia. He came back to St. Petersburg 10 years later, and man, he sure hated the new world he saw, after he came back from the shilling hell. But let’s resume by saying that this little experience at Siberia molded his philosophy and seated his future writings, for he became quite an…interesting man ever since. What with his affairs, his gambling addictions… Goodness, who would have known that such a frosty place like Siberia can be hell on earth…

Anyways, he’s best known for being the author of classics just as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, which apparently wasn’t finished completely. Surely you might have read one of these, or even one of his other works, like Demons and The Idiot, which all encompass one philosophical idea rooting back to bitterness of life, the hypocrisy of society or, why not, to Christian themes, to which the author was fond of. Notes from Underground is not a far less known work, but I am sure that, if the name Dostoyevsky pops up, people might think immediately on the first two titles and not on this one. Such a pity…

Anyways, now that you know, it’ll be easier to resume Notes from Underground.

Notes from Underground

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/Notes_from_underground_cover.jpg
One of Dostoyevsky’s shortest works, the first part is dedicated to quite an amusing existentialist rambling done by the nameless narrator, whom we rapidly assume’s quite a grouchy man with some temper problems. We come to know his philosophy, his exposition of human wickedness, our inherent mediocrity, and, of course, the doomed condition that, no matter what do, we will never overcome our unhappiness. Or in short: how we humans are losers by nature and creatures predestined to fall despite our best efforts. All of this is written with an acid and sarcastic tongue that will immediately burn some sensitive positive tummies, mostly of those who happen to be avid believers of Oprah’s positive philosophy and readers of Paulo Coehlo’s self-help techniques in his narrative.

The second part is the actual start of his narrative. Now we come to meet the still nameless narrator and his rather mediocre life. See, we immediately see he’s been obsessed over many things ever since he was young, ranging from his own flaws to the other people’s flaws, in some herculean attempt to prove what a big piece of trash life is. There’s no precise story in this part, but rather a recollection of memories that showcase his socially inept demeanor. We see him, for example, obsess on bumping into a man who previously, and in an unconscious way, shoved him out of the way when he was walking. The narrator, who takes this as a gesture of aggression, seriously considers taking revenge by bumping him later just to start a fight and prove he’s no coward, and when he finally does it…well, would you harm a man who bumped you on the street? Really.

Another obsession of his is to belittle other people in a fit against society. It happens when he meets with his college “friends” (the narrator doesn’t really have friends, but they kinda invite him to a birthday party just because they have no choice…it makes sense on the context) and tries to impose himself as a superior being during a rather awkward reunion, and again when he meets a young prostitute whom he humiliates through comments of her uselessness. This exposition might sound rather mean when I explain it, but trust me, when you read the novel, it suddenly turns quite deep and interesting. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s greatest talent is to make you think on humanity through all kinds of characters, and this narrator’s one of his best creations.

The prose is exquisite. It’s not poetic per se, but it is not realistic either. It’s, literally, just the ramblings of an old mediocre man who truly has no idea of what humility—or banality—is. Dostoyevsky’s grandeur makes it possible to makes all of this rambling not only bearable and credible, but also intriguing, attracting and, moreover, powerful. It does leave you thinking. It does! Every word he chooses rains above you as an icy shower, and every scene can be disgusting and sickening, but in a well-crafted way—in a way that you do feel and empathize with the man’s paranoia and gloominess, despite all the monstrosity that can bloom from deep inside of his heart. This is philosophy; a pure, well-crafted story that showcases a whole philosophical opinion through several scenes, and in a very humane and interesting one. So don’t worry: there won’t be any preachiness in the book. Just sheer awesomeness.

It is fast paced. Its length’s excellent. It won’t bore you, but you’ll crave for more after you’re done reading, because you’ll feel like you owe Dostoyevsky a whole new perception of life once you drop down the book on your shelf.

Notes from Underground is a great analysis of human psyche and an interesting psychology exam. It has been called a founding base of the existentialist movement and one of the best books of the author, if not of the world. And it shows.

In this epoch of the Two Thousands, I do recommend you a lot, O Reader, to give this book a little chance. Trust me, the exposed mentality’s not quite different of the actual mentality of most average men, whom have such a sick aversion towards humanity nowdays. I recommend reading it, mostly because most people might understand the psyche of those people and even start a psychological exam of one’s own.

Dostoyevsky should be read by everybody. It does make one wonder how much mediocre one is, deep inside…
Thanks for reading!

P.S.: If you’re interested in reading the book, which is rather short compared to his other works, you can find an online edition here. Enjoy!

[All images redirect to their respective Wikipedia page. Click on each if you feel more curious about the author and the book]

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Top Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” has escaped prison for the second time

12 Jul

“Escaped” is quite a strong word, considering the quite criminal background of our government. And mind you, O Readers, Mexico’s right now dealing with a huge uproar against the national privatization of the public health services; it’s quite “odd” that now all the debate about it has been removed in favour of El Chapo’s escape…

Helena Miraculous

8 Jul
To know more about the Greece debt, click on this image to see a chronology of its events.

To know more about the Greece debt, click on this image to see a chronology of its events.

 

I’ve seen the birth of the human birds

defy God’s holiest commandments

and defy the plant nature of the feet

that damns us forever in the land.

And I’ve seen how their flaming eggs

explode over the children’s heads

in a beach so random

and hatch monsters without teeth

in a blazing cemetery

that nobody remembers but me.

 

I’ve seen giant beetles

run through the land

in a never ending race

for a never reachable prize,

drying an already dry desert

with its flaming feet, ironed and flat.

I’ve also seen and heard gigantic bees,

wasps, and other kinds of hive

buzz a never ending orchestra of bullets

pierce the very building’s heart,

and write on their walls

a most solemn poet,

a most solemn song,

dedicated to all those

who heard their litany last.

 

I’ve seen the smallest creature of the Earth

hatch through a magical glass.

I’ve seen God’s perfection and reason

through the stillness of the land

and the symmetry of a tree,

and the symmetry of the sun.

I’ve seen edible dragons.

I’ve tasted the gems of the caves.

I’ve tasted the air,

whose flavor is sweet

and yet somehow so sour.

And I’ve devoured rainbows

with an eye blink.

And I’ve seen the sky take monstrous bites

of the cheeks of the moon,

of the chin of the sun,

and I’ve tasted the horrific flavor

of their dark-inked blood

cover the sky

and blind the whole world

without a culprit in sight…

 

Yes. I’ve seen many things.

I’ve seen disasters.

I’ve seen the horror.

I’ve seen miracles as well.

I’ve seen the impossible

and I’ve seen the man defy God’s laws

of his own head,

and weave a newer fate

with a new kind of thread…

 

But this is the first time I’ve heard an echo,

an explosion,

reach the corners of the Universe

and shake the very throne of the King.

 


 

This poem was inspired in the recent events of Greece. The ultimate decision—a huge “OXI” (“NO”) from the Greek population—can indeed bring a new debate on the table. Many people fear for what will happen. Many others rejoice for this decision. Many people are still wondering what’s to come… Yes, many things are now possible, now that this decision shook the EU and brought to the table the actual debate of austerity policies…

It’s understandable that this event’s now making people wonder what will happen, be it a good thing or a bad thing. I, too, wonder what will happen now that Greece finally told its economic harassers to leave it alone. But what truly hit me in this aspect was this:

For the first time, it is the people talking—roaring—out loud for their own destiny. A huge “No” came straight out of their mouths and made it clear that they weren’t going to accept more bullying from the bigger banks.

And that’s going to mark the Two Thousands, trust me.