Archive for October, 2012

In re: Dostoyevsky

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Having greatly enjoyed Crime and Punishment, my wife and I are immersed in The Brothers Karamazov.  I just finished a segment in which Alyosha tries to give two hundred rubles to the man his brother Dmitri insulted and beat up.  At first it seems the man will accept the money, which he needs more than desperately, but in a sudden access of pride, he throws the money on the ground and stomps angrily away.

I was moved to think that the moral is: There are good deeds that cannot be performed.  It is an odd thought, is it not?  We are brought up to think that good deeds are always possible and it is our responsibility to perform them when the opportunity presents itself.  But human nature is such that a determination not to be the recipient of charity, say, can make impossible the fulfillment of a charitable person’s desire to give it.  In other words, charity is not a one-way street.  Both the donor and the recipient must agree to it.

As I think about it, I recall many fictional situations in literature in which charity is refused on the grounds that it requires too much of a sacrifice of personal image, a sacrifice of “honor” (which, as we also know from literary example, covereth a multitude of sins).  Still, the fact remains.  There are good deeds that cannot be performed.

NY Times Article on stylistic ruts

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I commend to you this article, which appeared last Sunday (Sep. 30, 2012) in the New York Times.

Escaping One’s Own Shadow

It makes an interesting point about how one’s writing is affected by one’s half-conscious mind-set and suggests ways to escape the stylistic ruts one can get into.  Speaking as a Ph.D. psychologist, I find the reverent psychobabble about priming to be a bit over the top, but priming does happen, so I guess I shouldn’t complain more than I just did.  So, I won’t.