|Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment|
I've been reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment again. This time I'm enjoying reading it in an old paperback edition -- the same one that was around our house when I was growing up. Every time I read it I'm struck by layers of meaning that I can't remember noticing before.
As I began reading, I recalled that a few years ago Edward Snowden was given a copy of Crime and Punishment by his Russian lawyer. At the time I suggested the attorney was using the book to subtly raise the question, "Where are the real crimes that we should be focusing on?"
I noticed three things as I read Crime and Punishment this time:
The Emperor Napoleon in His Study
at the Tuileries (Art Institute Chicago)
(2) It's about relativism. The murder committed by the book's protagonist is about as horrible as you could imagine. The book relentlessly zeroes in on him and his physical, emotional, and moral state. And yet . . . . I was struck by this statement, a kind of throwaway line from another character in the book: "It's as well that you only killed the old woman. If you'd invented another theory you might perhaps have done something a thousand times more hideous." (Bantam paperback, p. 396) (Consider: what are the theories we use to justify suffering by other people at our hands today?)
(3) It's about our resistance to remorse. Up until the very last pages, the protagonist is unable to simply say, "I was wrong." (Consider: why can't we admit we were wrong? what are we afraid might happen?)
I wonder: what would happen if students were encouraged to read this book and given the following guidance: "Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is about an individual student in 19th century Russia who murders an old woman. But it also tells the story of the USA . . . . " ? ? ?
With drones, people become just dots. "Bugs." People who no longer count as people . . . .
(See Drone Victims: Just Dots? Just Dirt? )
Now that it is available online, every American should read the Justice Department memo approving the targeted killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki. Let's face it: the Obama administration and the rest of the U.S. government know that they have a big problem: they want to go to war against anyone they suspect is an enemy -- and skip the rule of law. They wish that a miracle could happen and everyone would just let them do it.
(See A Layman Reads Obama's "Targeted Killing" Memo )
(See "Ender's Game" and the Militarization of Youth: Can We Talk About This? )
"Once the boat went to full pressure, there was really no other option."
(See In Whose Machine Will YOU Be a Cog? )
Svetlana Geier, translator of Dostoevsky's "elephants" (The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Devils, and Raw Youth) into German.
(See Would You Buy an Elephant from This Woman?)