Notes from UndergroundNotes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was written in 1864. That is almost more than 150 years ago. One of the “narrator’s” main argument is that mankind has lost its moral belief. He does not make it quite clear what moral belief he refers to, but what could be derived from it as a lesson to today’s, future generations, is that morality is something that decays over time? He makes a fantastic point about that decay and the fakeness of the “lofty and the beautiful”. Looking from today’s societies point of view, hasn’t the “pattern” of moral decay survived through all these decades? Each period bears with it a moral shift towards a global pattern of irritable values replacing the real ones. This is not meant to be a justification, but quite on the contrary, a plea of rationalizing one’s awareness. It is unfortunate that his plea of two centuries ago has prevailed only in reviews of the book itself. Rarely does one admit his or her stripping of the human core, favoring and living materialism over moral, and at the same time claiming superiority at the expense of one’s innate, natural self.
The same way the “narrator” argues that parts of the fake moral could be prescribed to injected and incompatible values from a foreign world. Does that remind us of something? How many nations have been historically diminishing their own values striving to achieve foreign, seemingly superior moral? How many of those nations have been convincing themselves that the foreign values are much more important and right than their own? But nations are not the subject of the writer’s vile. Because nations are not a superficial entity, but consisting of rational people of certain variances. Individuals are the ones who decide what type of morality they will prove a standard. And despite that decay, there is definitely a lot of good beneath the shiny, fake surface, perhaps somewhere in the underground. In each of our undergrounds.
He righteously refutes the table that will codify our patterns of behavior. Because the irrational is as important as the rational. The irrational drives us to act rational. It provides with opportunities to experience, to show that at times the irrational is in fact a rational design at that given time and the circumstances it describes it.
Have we perhaps all subconsciously found ourselves in a trap of what he refers to as “heightened consciousness”? The blunt fact that we were sometimes afraid to admit that has not cancelled it out. It is there, but pushed way down. And like he mentions in one of his preaches: there are some things that a man would not even admit to or talk about even with himself.
Another point is that “the intelligent man fails to find a satisfactory reason for the action he wants to perform, and, in fact, is impossible to find one. For the intelligent man, even the laws of nature and reason are suspect. Therefore, no intelligent man should ever be able to make up his mind to start or finish anything—no matter how simple.” He talks of it as the being the curse of inertness – the more intelligent one is, the greater the fear is to commit the dreams, the responsibilities, but at the same time, the bigger the enthusiasm is to do all that. But an intelligent man could rarely get a mental glimpse of what the end might mean. Perhaps it adds up to one of his saying that “everything is lost” once reality kicks in, no matter how much we fantasize about it. Once we make ourselves aware that we are achieving our daydreams, once we could feel the completeness of the finish line, we run away from the sensation in our little corner, no matter how essential all that was in the first place. Later, we are even afraid to repent about it. Or we are plain insecure about it, lacking belief in a world of constant change of values and shifting fronts of perception. No wonder why he goes on and on about some sort of a sacred ordeal of suffering. We find pride in our suffering because we often lack the courage to be “living life”.
Notes from Underground is a great novel, poking at the existentialist nature in its core with all its sarcasm and burden.
This review is written despite of the political connotation of the book at the “narrator’s” era.

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