Intermission: Perfect Purity is Possible
If you turn your life into a line of poetry with a splash of blood.
Before anything else, are you registered to vote? Do you know your voting options? Start here please: https://www.vote411.org
Now that the vital democracy saving work is out of the way…Well, and the other reason I have not thought to update is because I have been writing three letters a week to plow through my stamps because sending letters is going to some how save democracy long enough so we can get a vaccine so we can go to a movie theater again. This is where I am and I hope I can meet you there.
We should all take a break from our obsessions from time to time. A friend asked me to read The Brothers Karamazov for ages, and finally agreed to read Ada or Ardor if I read Brothers. I’m not sure who is getting the better end of this deal. My friend loathes footnotes or annotations, and you literally cannot read Ada without referencing the footnotes or annotations, and I have come to hate the covert Orthodox Christianity that Dostoevsky hides under this appeals to teenage nihilism. Plus, Brothers is like 800 pages, Ada, only 550, including notes. Splitting hairs, but this kind of shit matters.
Pg. 239 (The Everyman Edition, translated by P&V) has Ivan tell his little brother Aylosha about the terrible war crimes the Syrians and Turks would commit, in the most plaintive, grotesque way possible.
They’ve though up an amusing trick: they fondle the baby, they laugh to make it laugh and they succeed — the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk aims a pistol at it, four inches from its face. The baby laughs gleefully, reaches out its little hands to grab the pistol, and suddenly the artist pulls the trigger right in its face and shatters its little head…Artistic, isn’t it? By the way, they say the Turks are very fond of sweets.
The artist is where I get stuck. Mishima, and Nietzsche, both regard crime as a certain kind of art (see my discussion of The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, here), and the moral degradation and impulse as a form of art. Dostoevsky was stuck on somethings I couldn’t understand but appreciated — if you are fake executed, you probably become obsessed with fake executions — but this one I agree with. The artist, makes his crimes something worth discussing, worth living. The highest crimes are somehow elevated above something as base as breaking and entering, etc. The strategy, the execution, it’s all a practice, all in service to your (criminal) art.
I have 540 pages left to go for Karamazov. I have ordered additional Mishima books, to continue Cruel Summer, but I’m not sure if I want to. As the American death toll reaches 230K, I’m not sure any of it matters, or is appropriate.
I wish I had a brother, to tell me so.