Book Review – Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1864)

Notes From Underground My Rating: 4 of 5  ||  My Review on Goodreads  ||  More About The Book  ||  About The Author  ||  Author’s Website

I scribbled on my notepad, random words, stared at them, struck them and occasionally, tore the page to reveal a new one. The overcast sky was teetering at the rain’s behest and the drowning sun was not of much assistance either. I was wriggling my fingers between the spaces of the black wrought iron bench on which I had been sitting for over three hours now. My patience was about to surrender and I was in no mood to cajole it any further. I snapped shut my notepad, freed my fingers and was about to leave when….

I: Did you come from there ?
D: Did you not expect that?
I: Ah well, I was kind of…
D: You see, you ask questions for which you already know the answer.
I: Actually, it’s called confirmation.
D: No, it is deeper. It’s called consciousness.
I: What does that mean?
D: You are clearly conscious of a thing and yet you keep it groggy under the limp veils of confirmation and validity and other fancy words.
I: Consciousness comes with a lot of digging; consistent digging. It is not everyone’s cup of tea.
D: (mildly chortles)
I: What?
D: Nothing.
I: C’mon! You cannot smirk like that and shut up without explaining!
D: Okay. Let me ask you something. Why have you been waiting here for three hours?
I: Because I had a meeting with you.
D: That was timed three hours ago and you should have been long gone.
I: Well, yes. But I thought you might have gotten stuck somewhere and would be probably on your way.
D: Really? Think again.
I: Well, may be I wanted to meet you.
D: And waiting made you feel good!
I: Certainly not!
D: Oh very much, my lady. The waiting was a pain which during the first hour was scratching at your consciousness. But once it seeped in, you began enjoying it. Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness.
I: Rubbish. How can someone enjoy suffering?
D: Have you ever dabbed your nail over a dry cut on your skin? And with every dab, a shrill of pain running through your nerves bringing you a sense of enjoyment after a while? So much that you continue the activity?
I: Perhaps some moments were…
D: There! The enjoyment was just from too intense consciousness of one’s own degradation; it was from feeling oneself that one has reached the last barrier.
I: You might be right in some distorted way. But your fixation with darkness renders everything fair, meaningless.
D: You interpret wrong again, my lady. The darkness I talk about is already ingrained in you. You choose to be aware of it and pursue it too. You just stop short of accepting it.
I: I pursue darkness?
D: Your dark side, to be precise.
I: How can you say that?
D: Let us just take today’s instance. You could have easily walked at the strike of 3pm and kept your upright sense breathing with principle. But you chose to hover. Not for 1, 2, 3 but freaking 190 minutes! There was fun in waiting for the unknown visitor since that window gave you the independence to create the story the way you wished to. You could make me tall or short, contort my face to suit your image, sway the discussion to merge with your thoughts. But the moment I appeared, you had to banish your independence and cede the power in my favour. So, you see, you enjoyed the waiting, the suffering if you so choose to call it. That is the reason you waited – to appease your dark side, not to fulfill my flair; in the slightest.
I: (in a low voice) What you say might have some truth in it. But it may not be the entire truth. I think….
D: Ah….

And in a swoosh, he rose in thin air, flung towards the adjacent underground and disappeared into it before I could blink twice.

I kept sitting on the bench, at the risk of proving him right, hoping for another rendezvous with the mysterious D who made sense and muddled it, all the same. I looked up. The sky had turned dark after all.

Man Without Face (B&W)

[Image courtesy sydneychamberopera.com ]

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One thought on “Book Review – Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1864)

  1. Pingback: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY! | fleetingbrook

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