June 04, 2007


Caption: This man could be several characters of Dostoevsky's. Here he portrays the debauched Fyodor Karamazov.

It took several months and at times I didn't think I'd get there but I finally finished The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky's last major novel. I'm not sure what prompted me to return to this megatherium of a book about a cosmically messed up family after about 15 years since my last assault.

Maybe it had to do with wanting to revisit Ivan Karamazov's prose poem of the Grand Inquisitor (Goat Roped here) or his question about the price of utopia (Goat Roped here).

(I discovered that both of those could be read as brief stand alone islands in a sea of 913 pages of small print. Dude could have used more paragraphs too.)

Maybe it was wanting to visit again the saintly elder Father Zossima, the gentle Alyosha, the "fallen" Grushenka, the hell raising Dmitri or the tightly wrapped Katrina.

Or it could have just been a self-punishment thing.

In fact, one thing you get from reading just about any work of Dostoevsky is that people are a lot more complicated than calculating rational choice machines (see his Notes from the Underground). That might be one take home message.

Another might be the theme that seems to run through his work that everyone is connected to and responsible for everyone else, as in this scene where after the death of his mentor, the holy Father Zossima, Alyosha throws himself on the ground, kissing the earth and "drenching it with his tears"

It was as though the threads from all those innumerable worlds of God met all at once in his soul, and it was trembling all over 'as it came in contact with other worlds.' He wanted to forgive everyone and for everything, and to beg forgiveness--oh! not for himself, but for all men, for all and for everything, 'and others are begging for me,' it echoed in his soul again....

Or later:

Oh, my dear children, my dear friends, do not be afraid of life! How good life is when you do something that is good and just!

Speaking of which...

SICK DAYS. Campaigns are starting to ramp up in several states around the issue of paid sick leave. Here's some information from the Economic Policy Institute about the scope of the problem and who suffers the most:

On average, 57% of private-industry workers in the United States have access to paid sick leave. That means that 43% of all private-industry workers have no paid sick days. When workers get sick, they are either forced to go to work or stay home without pay and risk losing their job. What this number masks, however, is how vastly unequal access to sick leave is depending on workers’ wages. Workers at the bottom of the wage scale, those making less than $7.38 an hour, are five times less likely to have sick days than workers at the top of the scale, those making greater than $29.47 an hour.

The report concludes:

In recent months, legislation has been introduced that would level the playing field and provide much needed paid leave for workers who are sick. Such legislation—as exists in other advanced economies—would not only give workers an important benefit, but could provide valuable incentives for increased productivity in the workforce through worker loyalty, decreased turnover, and a decline in sick employees showing up to work and infecting others.

It is time for the United States to join the rest of the developed world and guarantee paid leave for its workforce.



Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

You must be a fast reader: it took me a year to read “The Brothers Karamazov.” (Of course, I sometimes went a month without picking it up).

El Cabrero said...

If I put it down for a month, that would have probably been the end of it!

Anonymous said...

I found your site while researching the Gazette/DOJ issue. You have a very interesting and comprehensive website dealing with the anti-human(e) forces we face and solutions to same. I really enjoy your photos, too.

Larry in New Mexico

Juanuchis said...

I read it when I was on break from college ('81-'85). A former boyfriend pronounced it as "profound". Hence another reason to have ditched him.

I don't remember a damn thing about the novel. That I managed to finish it is a miracle.

I have the 3-volume hardcover of Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past". It looks nice on the shelf. Makes a great flower press. I'd rather read Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" (which I do have).

Then again, I remember slogging through "A Tale of Two Cities" in 9th grade. I'm just not into the "classics" when the writing style entails endless run on sentences. Oh GOD get to the point. ("Madame Bovary" was an exception to this. Come to think if it, so was "Lady Chatterly's Lover", but only if you skip to the good parts.)

I'll go back to my current reading, "The Bass Wore Scales".

Juanuchis said...

Oh, and BTW, here's a poser: William Shatner in a film version of "TBK". It was probably in the 50's. I've never seen it, but can't imagine Kirk emoting ... or maybe I can.

El Cabrero said...

If Shatner really was in Bros. K., you made my day! That must be as awesome as him singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

Re: Proust--I tried listening to vol. I and the character got on my last nerve fast. I wish I could find a recording of Gibbon.

Speaking of books that never end...Anna Karenina. This will sound bad, but I was ready for the second train scene hundreds of pages before it came.

Nice blog, by the way and GO EPISCOPALIANS!

I'm still trying to figure out Nestorianism and what exact difference it would make.

El Cabrero said...

Larry in New Mexico,

Thanks for visiting Goat Rope and thanks for your comments. The Gazette story must be getting around. It's kind of fishy, isn't it?

Juanuchis said...

El Cabrero (love the Spanish, my husband is Colombian):

I had to laugh with the "Are You a Heretic" quiz. I don't know what half the stuff means. I thought Padre Mickey's reply was a hoot, that he and a friend argue about Nestorianism and Chalcedon even still.

But the more I look, the more all these "isms" are quibbles. One is as the same as another: quibble. Then Quibble 2 engages Quibble 3, which is further afield than the original Quibble 1, but now far from Quibble 2 ... and on and on.

Sheesh, you'll lock me out for boring you unto tears!

El Cabrero said...

The great thing about being Episcopal is that you can be as heretical as you want as long as you use the Book of Common Prayer.

I keep trying to urge the Quakers I work with to return to the embrace of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church...