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....
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.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED