Friday, March 12, 2010

The Contemplator

A picture is worth a thousand words, no doubt. But someone like Dostoevsky rises above such clichés and how -

"Only rarely did he speak. If at that time it had occurred to someone to ask, looking at him, what this fellow was interested in, and what was most often on his mind, it would really have been impossible to tell from looking at him. Yet he would sometimes stop in the house, or else in the yard or the street, fall into thought, and stand like that even for ten minutes. A physiognomist, studying him, would have said that his face showed neither thought nor reflection, but just some sort of of contemplation. The painter Kramskoy has a remarkable painting entitled The Contemplator. It depicts a forest in winter, and in the forest, standing all by himself on the road, in deepest solitude, a stray little peasant in a ragged caftan and bast shoes; he stands as if he were lost in thought, but he is not thinking, he is "contemplating" something. If you nudged him, he would give a start and look at you as if he had just woken up, but without understanding anything. It's true that he would come to himself at once, and yet, if he were asked what he had been thinking about while standing there, he would most likely not remember, but would most likely keep hidden away in himself the impression he had been under while contemplating. These impressions are dear to him, and he is most likely storing them up imperceptibly and even without realizing it -- why and what for, of course, he does not know either; perhaps suddenly, having stored up his impressions over many years, he will drop everything and wander off to Jerusalem to save his soul, or perhaps he will suddenly burn down his native village, or perhaps he will do both. There are plenty of contemplators among the people. Most likely Smerdyakov, too, was such a contemplator, and most likely he, too, was greedily storing up his impressions, almost without knowing why himself."


Sudhamshu said...

That exactly is the reason why I loved Dostoyevsky's writing. The thing he describes is a commonplace. But what he describes it mind-boggling!
From which of his books are these quotations taken from?

Nandan said...

Yup, very true. This one is from Brothers Karamazov.

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