Thursday, December 8, 2011

Notes from Underground: Conclusion

I have just finished the last five chapters of Part II.

The Underground Man is a complete, reprehensible motherfucker.

Dostoevsky leads us on as to give us the romantic notion of the saved prostitute, saving the fallen man. He turns it on its head. He gives us a motherfucker, spiteful not from feeling as much as a broken intellect. The feeling rules all, but it is indirect, falsified by intellectualization, by notion. It is feeling falsified by an unworthy ideal.

At each point in the end of the story, the u.m. could have made a different choice and all would have ended differently, ended well. This he does not do, because this we do not do. We do not resolve on mercy, on charity, on love, on nobility. We resolve on crudeness, on vulgarity, on scorn, on spite—to protect ourselves, as not to lower ourselves, not to be vulnerable to another because we cannot live in the filth of reality, but are happy to love the vileness of our suffocated isolation.

How truthful is any of this?

I will have to come back to this after thinking on it. Dostoevsky reveals the lie in the pathetic, romantic image—then gives us its redemption in the end of Crime and Punishment—is that it? Raskolnikov is humbled and thus salvageable in a way that never happens with the u.m. Yes?

I kept expecting Liza to hang herself. Why would this have been more pleasing? Would this in some way have redeemed the u.m., turned him to repentance? Or is it just a pleasing literary turn having nothing to do with life? Pleasing in its finality, in its pathetic tidiness, while the u.m. just continues his dinginess?

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