My husband and I have started rereading The Brothers Karamazov, and are zipping through it the blinding pace of nearly 2-3 chapters per week. At this rate, we’ll have it finished before our kids borrow the book for college. I thought you guys might appreciate this passage, as the monk Fr. Zosima recounts a conversation with a famous doctor:
‘I love mankind,’ [the doctor] said, ‘but I marvel at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love human beings in particular, separately, that is, as individual persons. In my dreams,’ he said, ‘I would often arrive at fervent plans of devotion to mankind and might very possibly have gone to the Cross for human beings, had that been suddenly required of me, and yet I am unable to spend two days in the same room with someone else, and this I know from experience. No sooner is that someone else close to me than her personality crushes my self-esteem and hampers my freedom. In the space of a day and a night I am capable of coming to hate even the best of human beings: one because he takes too long over dinner, another because he has a cold and is perpetually blowing his nose. I become the enemy of others,’ he said, ‘very nearly as soon as they come into contact with me. To compensate for this, however, it has always happened that the more I have hated human beings in particular, the more ardent has become my love for mankind in general.’
‘But then what is to be done? What is to be done in such a case? Is one to give oneself up to despair?’
[and Fr. Zosima responds:] No, for it sufficient that you grieve over it. Do what you are able, and it will be taken into consideration. In your case, much of the work has already been done, for you have been able to understand yourself so deeply and sincerely! If, however, you have spoken so sincerely to me now only in order to receive the kind of praise I have just given you for your truthfulness, then you will, of course, get nowhere in your heroic attempts at active love; it will all merely remain in your dreams, and the whole of your life will flit by like a wraith. You will also, of course, forget about the life to come, and you will end by somehow acquiring a kind of calm.
I’m also reading Jurassic Park. How about you? What book is currently lulling you to sleep or keeping you awake all night?