NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND MAN

Fyodor Dostoevsky was a russian novelist,short story writer,essayist,philospher,militiary engineer and a journalist.Notes from undeground is considered one of the first existentialist novels which was published in 1864.Existentialism is based on the premise that existence precedes meaning that is to say that our values in life and our meaning of life comes from us and we as independent beings. Dostoevsky’s work primarily focuses on human psychology that’s one of the main reasons that i got attracted to reading him in the first place.Although it’s hard to say that dostoevsky wanted this to be an existential work because this existentialism term was coined after Dostoevsky’s death.I am not going to summarize the narrative of this novella but I will be looking at the philosphical undertones in this novella.

THE CRYSTAL PALACE

It
The Crystal Palace was built during the Enlightement era to celebrate rationality establishing rationality as the highest virtue that one could aspire for.It claims to eradicate human suffering if only we know more about what is good or bad for us we would surely act in our rational best interest. Dosttoevsky writes

life can be perfected if everyone uses reason and knows what is in their best interest.Reason satisfies our rational faculty but there’s much more to us.

Furthermore,he talks about man actually choosing the things that are destructive for him.If he’s rational how can he consciously choose to sabotage himself?Isn’t smoking,procrastination or addictions and many more vices a form of self- sabotage?why even knowing the harm associated with these vices people still choose to commit them?The whole 19th century has been the century of destruction and chaos.

SLAVERY GENOCIDE OF INDIANS REVOLUTIONARY WAR CIVIL WAR WORLD WAR 1 WORLD WAR 2 GULF WAR GULF WAR 2 KOREAN WAR VIETNAM WAR AFGHAN WAR

SUFFERING AND MAN

Do we actually want a pain free life?is life just lived for happiness?isn’t the whole purpose of our life revolves around facing challenges and growing from them?Dostoevsky’s writes

Shower upon him every earthly blessing,drown him in a sea of happiness,so that nothing but bubbles of bliss can be seen on the surface,give him economic prosperity such that he should have nothing else to do but sleep,eat cakes and busy himself with the continuation of his species and even then out of sheer ingratitude,sheer spite,men would play you some nasty trick’

ROMANTICISM

Romanticism is not just a literary but also a philosphical movement in which man,his independence and emotions assumed supreme importance.Imagination was considered superior to rationality but is feeling really as crucial as romantics claims it to be?the underground man mocks the german and french romantics by saying they just focuses on one ideal whereas a russian romantic is broad minded and intelligent.He’s romantic enough to have his lofty ideals but practical enough to understand the disparity between his ideals of sublime beauty,truth,honor and faith and concrete truth.

SOCIAL ANXIETY

DOSTOEVSKY’S WRITES

I HAVE ALL MY LIFE,AS IT WERE,TURNED MY EYES AWAY AND NEVER COULD LOOK PEOPLE STRAIGHT IN THE FACE

The resistance to human contact,the perspiration,the shame,the excessive rumination ,constant overreflection of what you said or did in front of the other person,the inferiority complex is eloquently expressed in the words of the protoganist.The aversion of eyes due to fear of being judged is according to me a perfect description of someone with a social anxiety disorder.

PSYCHOANALYSIS

This novella can also be seen as a work of psychoanalysis.The reader can be the psychoanalyst while the protoganist can be the patient.First resistance to accepting the underlying psychological condition then denial then finally acceptance.I don’t really know much about psychoanalysis but this is actuaaly what i can make out.So i will leave you guys with the thought of the week

are we actually rational?what do you do which is purely irrational?

G

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