Monday, June 13, 2005

Summer Reading, Part 1

I found this in Chris Hedge's new book, Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America.
For the world says; "You have needs, therefore satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the noblest and richest men. Do not be afraid to satisfy them, but even increase them" -this is the current teaching of the world. And in this they see freedom. But what comes of this right to increase ones need's? For the rich, isolation and spiritual suicide; for the poor, envy and murder, for they have been given rights, but have not yet been shown any way of satisfying their needs. We are assured that the world is becoming more and more united, is being formed into brotherly communion, by the shortening of distances, by the transmitting of thoughts through the air. Alas, do not believe in such a union of people. Taking freedom to mean the increase and prompt satisfaction of needs, they distort their own nature, for they generate many meaningless and foolish desires, habits, and the most absurd fancies in themselves. They live only for mutual envy, for pleasure-seeking and self display. To have dinners, horses, carriages, rank, and slaves to serve them is now considered such a necessity that for the sake of it, to satisfy it, they will sacrifice life, honor, the love of mankind, and will even kill themselves if they are unable to satisfy it. We see the same thing in those who are not rich, while the poor, so far, simply drown their unsatisfied needs and envy in drink. But soon they will get drunk on blood instead of wine, they are being led to that. I ask you: is such a man free?
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Richard Peavar and Marissa Volokhonsky (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), pp. 313-14.

I've read just enough of it to strongly recommend Hedges' book. And to move my copy of Karamazov back to the nightstand.

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