Saturday, May 09, 2009

Underground Man

Just finished Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground, and I was blown away. If you haven't read it I think you might love it.
The protagonist, a spiteful antihero, hates himself and everyone else and spends much time explaining that is human nature, contrary to what so-called rational men believe. Being rational somehow takes away his individuality; the only freedom is to misbehave, in his mind. And what a mind it is; it is reminding me of Shouts and Murmurs much of the time. The agitated self-centered one is ludicrous.

U.M. is so paranoid that he makes a weeks-long project of passing a certain person in the street who doesn't notice him. The antihero spruces up his wardrobe, even sells his racoon coat collar and has a beaver collar sewn on because he can't push past the certain person wearing a raccoon collar. I won't reveal the outcome of that little business. Underground man tries to challenge people to a duel because he takes such affront; but no one takes him seriously enough to duel with him. He is even an antihero to his valet; everyone has more dignity than he, even a prostitute, and this is his shame-y hell. At the end what will happen with the prostitute, whom he halfway wanted to save? Will she come to the house? He dreads it, he wants it, he agonizes. When she comes: more suspense, as you don't know if he will kill her or marry her. You have to read it that's all: U.M.'s wit and spite are irresisitible. Plus, it is brilliant philosophical denunciation of Reason as a hope for a sane society.

This is who we are without God: trapped in total banal depravity. Yet this person should he turn to God and devote himself to prayer, will be among the "last" who will come "first." He is the sinner Jesus came to save.

The man of Reason, the well-ordered, fitting-in man, the cheerful virtuous successful man, has no need of God. His prosperity, his intelligence, his goodness stand as barriers to his recognition of the U.M. in his own soul.


Post a Comment

<< Home