Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, NOTES
FROM THE UNDERGROUND, has held many labels, such as being a case
history of nuerosis or a specimen of modern tragedy. The most popular
label it has obtained however, is being the author’s defense of
The novel is
writen as a performance, part triad, part memoir, by a nameless
personage who claims to be writing for hiomself but consistently
maipulates the reader–of whom he is morbidly aware– to the point
where there seems to be no judgement the reader can make which has
not already been made by the writer himself.
man is represenative as a product of individaul pathology or a
biographical accident. He is "one of the characters of our
recent past," part of a generation that is living out its days
among us. Internal eveidence makes it clear that his generation is of
the 1840s. He shows the fate of the isolated petty clerk and
Dostoevkian dreamer twenty years after, surveying his wasted life in
the new spiritual climate of the 1860s and at the same time finding
justification for his own grotesque being in the simplistic views of
the human nature now current.
IN the first
part of the novel, the underground man describes himself and his
views, and attempts, as it were, to clarify the reasons why he
appeared and is bound in our midst. The mention of his self and his
views raise thequestion of how the two are related. Are we to
understand his views as the product of his wasted life or
independently? There are also the same views that are bound in the
paradox. He dismisses the "laws of nature" and wilfully
denies that twice two is four. The common sense even today with his
views–but it underlies most of the art we think of as "modern":
are you so frimly,
only the normal
may be fond of
being. And man
too. And here
there is no
need to consult
you’re a man
and have lived
at all. As for
indecent to love
confuse this idea with sufering. Here he is simply touching on a
quest in which pleasure is of no use–it is the quest for
self-determination and self-affirmation.
man seeks truth, setting "authenticity" above goodness or
happiness as he reopens the question of what it means to be human.
This is what he seeks the answer to in dangerous and repugnant
Paradox is used
as contradiction in the underground man’s "confession",
fired by passion with generalizations that seem liable, as well as,
hyperbolic. He cravs isolation, yet thirsts for human contact. He
rejects that "laws of nature," yet explains his inertia has
their inevitable product. He seeks the reader’s sympathy, yet he
does all he can to preclude it. He suffers and proclaims pleasure in
accounts for twenty-second of human thought," he declares. Now,
take for example, his often-cited arguments about freedom and
individuality. He makes an outstanding case against social utopias as
denying "the most important thing– our personality, our
individuality." And how is the latter expressed? As spontaneous
desire, even caprice:"One’s own free, untrammeles desires,
one’s own whim’ no matter how extravagent, one’s own fancy, be
it wrought up at times to the point of madness–all of this is
precisely the most advantageous of advantages which is omitted, which
fits into no classification, and which is constantly knocking all the
systems and theories to hell."
He speaks of
wnting to live "in order to saticfy my whole capacity for
living, and not just my reasoning capacity alone." And he
seculates that striving may be more important to man than achieving,
the journey more important than arrival at the goal. Yet, how has he
lived? For what has he striven?
... Kernberg?s views on narcissism are basedon Mahler?s theory of the separation-individuation process in ... to interpret the defense (her focus on the excitement of the external ... . Goldberg, Carl. (1980). In defenseof narcissism. New York: Gardner Press ...
... Kernberg s views on narcissism are basedon Mahler s theory of the separation-individuation process in ... to interpret the defense (her focus on the excitement of the externalworld) ... . Goldberg, Carl. (1980). In defenseof narcissism. New York: Gardner Press ...
... to the defenseof the dignity of the modern individual. The most defensible interpretation of this ... second great pathology of subjectivity: “individualism.” Basedon his study of hierarchically based society in India ...
... and political defense and then I will shift towards defenseof segregation baseson science ... asserting that the adjustment of social relations ofindividuals was beyond the power ... of Congress, declared the Civil ...
... the history of American democracy is basedon creating a society of educated individuals who have ... claims in his essay, “In Defenseof Elitism.” His reasoning for selective ... academics. Henry, William A., III. “In Defenseof Elitism.” The Blair Reader. Ed ...