Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot

August 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

“The general considered that the girls’ taste and good sense should be allowed to develop and mature deliberately, and that the parents’ duty should merely be to keep watch, in order that no strange or undesirable choice be made; but that the selection once effected, both father and mother were bound from that moment to enter heart and soul into the cause, and to see that the matter progressed without hindrance until the altar should be happily reached.”

“I used to watch the line where earth and sky met, and longed to go and seek there the key of all mysteries, thinking that I might find there a new life, perhaps some great city where life should be grander and richer—and then it struck me that life may be grand enough even in a prison.’”

“Once I am rich, I shall be a genius, an extremely original man. One of the vilest and most hateful things connected with money is that it can buy even talent; and will do so as long as the world lasts. You will say that this is childish—or romantic.”

“What is a terrible disgrace to a woman, does not disgrace a man, at least not in the same way. Perhaps public opinion is wrong in condemning one sex, and excusing the other.”

“In such circumstances there can, of course, be no doubt. One’s conscience very soon informs one what is the proper narrative to tell. I admit, that among the many silly and thoughtless actions of my life, the memory of one comes prominently forward and reminds me that it lay long like a stone on my heart.”

The Idiot (1869)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Nostalgia is a mistress

July 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Nostalgia is a mistress one can’t help but fall in love with. And once that happens one is eternally doomed. Falling in love with misery never does anyone any good.
But i’ve found nostalgia to be different. It has that amazing power of lifting me up when i’m down and out, when I need it the most.
It can also bring me down and throw me heartlessly on the ground if I keep staring at it for too long.
But maybe being aware of something is different from actually admitting that thing exists. My past had everything in me that i need now.
And maybe i’m wrong, but i need to find that fire, that hope, that inspiration again.
I owe it to myself and my life that has become a lie.
I owe it to the person i was and the person i will be when i die.

Never let your light shine down…

July 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Listening to music, the old kind, the kind you listened to when the nights were still young, life still made sense and you still had hope for yourself and for the world. The ability of that music to invoke those long forgotten feelings in you is tremendous, and one that can never be underestimated.
It is almost like you are a different person when you have your headphones on, engulfed in nostalgia. Like anything is still possible, that you can still find hope again. It is a feeling that i possibly cannot describe in words but can only experience.
And what an experience, it is.

My muse has ditched me

July 9, 2014 § 2 Comments

My muse has ditched me. She no longer speaks to me. I no longer talk to her or see her anywhere. It seems that even my desire to touch her somehow has taken a leave. And that is where I must learn to get a little scared.
And perhaps I am getting there as well.
For not so long ago I yearned to stay close to her. My longing to let her stay with me never knew anything but perseverance.
But this complete absence of desire is perturbing— since it indicates a certain acceptance of failure on my part. Maybe I have accepted that I cannot/ will not ever write something that would really matter. Matter in my own eyes, that is. For I think I myself am my own worst critic.
Not very long ago I used to write for myself— for my own pleasure. The muse visited me very often then. But it so seems that this general reluctance to write now has taken her far away from me.
It’s like a vicious cycle, if you know what I mean. I do not feel like writing any longer, hence she does not visit me anymore. That sudden spark, the unavoidable surge of ideas, an almost burning desire to give words to thoughts, or life to those ideas, all of these things seem to have just vanished now.
I write today because I do not want myself to stay lost in the oblivion of uncertainty forever. If I always knew one thing in my life, it was my ability to create sentences. I was never much opinionated, always confused, and always uncertain. If there was anything that was keeping me from reaching the brink of complete insanity, it was that I knew somewhere deep down in my heart, that I wanted to write.
The signs were there, and it was ever so unobservant of me to not see them coming. But they were there. I knew I was getting weaker.
And it hurts me, more than anything else. It hurts me to think that I may not be able to compose two decent lines ever again.
Though it might be a bit arduous to understand for those who do not appreciate the longing to create.

That longing has left me now.
Not much unlike the sudden departure of a loved one,
Unannounced, unwarranted.
My muse has abandoned me.
But then, I wrote this didn’t I?
Perhaps she’s not yet ditched me,
Perhaps she’s just around the corner.
Waiting for me to discover her,
Again.

Invent and Reinvent

February 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

I have started reading Charles Bukowski recently and finally now understand the genius behind the man. Though I do confess to be a wee bit averse to this term genius, owing to the general carelessness with which people typically use it.
I have still read only a few poems in the poetry collection, Pleasures of the damned as yet. But enough, to conclude that these are undoubtedly some of the most beautifully written poems that I have ever come across.

In one of his poems, No leaders, please, he says,
“Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
Don’t swim in the same slough.”

He emphasizes again,
“Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself and
Stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.”

The whole poem is about inventing and reinventing oneself in order to shun mediocrity. I am not of the opinion that mediocrity is something that must be considered as essentially an appalling thing, but if a man is not going to push his limits he will never know what he is capable of achieving. It is too easy to settle for mediocrity and too difficult to keep trying for something beyond that. Not everyone is destined for greatness but it would be utterly wrong to believe that one is just not capable of achieving it, without even giving it a due try.

Mediocrity is a general excuse people give for not trying. They would blame circumstances, people, even the weather. They would just not take responsibility for their own life. And would cruelly ridicule the ones who are crazy enough to try.

It is one thing to try and fail innumerable times; in which case mediocrity is inevitable. It is completely another to have some potential but settle for mediocrity nonetheless. The latter, I believe, is the death of all passion in a person.

I am not saying that I haven’t done this. For I have spent half of my life wasting my time, thinking that people other than myself were responsible for what I have become. After giving it a considerable thought, however, I have reached the conclusion that no one other than myself was responsible for what I did (or did not do) with my life. I was the one who let others rule my emotions and me when I could just as easily have decided that they wouldn’t affect me. I know, it is easier said than done. But now, when I see it all from a distance, I believe I could easily have avoided the pain and the agony that I caused myself. Yes, much havoc was caused in my life that could have easily been avoided had I not let the circumstances get to me.

But they say, all’s well that ends well. And so I believe.

He ends the poem with these motivating yet eloquently simple lines;
“And reinvent your life because you must;
It is your life and its history
And the present belong only to you.”

And I shall definitely remember this.

Cody C. Delistraty

writer & modern historian

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