The Underground Spirit | The Martyrmade Podcast with Darryl Cooper (Part 2)

Check out The Martyrmade Podcast Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • 3 years after his father died, Dostoevsky wrote Poor Folk and entered the St. Petersburg literary scene
  • Vissarion Belinsky, a Russian literary critic, praised Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk because of its socio-political consciousness
  • Dostoevsky became a star in the St. Petersburg literary scene
    • He soon became ridiculed, with others insulting and teasing him behind his back
  • Dostoevsky’s next novel, The Double is an illustration of what the mind is like in a paranoid state
  • Dostoevsky well-examined the theme of the divided self, sometimes portrayed as unique characters in his novels
  • In Crime and Punishment, the protagonist Raskolnikov’s name is a play on the Russian word raskolnik, meaning “divided,”
  • After his fall out with Belinsky, Dostoevsky developed a gambling addiction
    • Compulsion in almost any form nurtures a divided self
  • He served 5 years of exile in Siberia with nothing to read but the Old Testament

Books Mentioned

  • Dostoevsky’s books:
    • Poor Folk
      • The novel that Vissarion Belinsky praised
      • Made him a star in the Russian literary circle
      • The protagonist is always the loser in Dostoevsky’s stories- this resonated with Nietzsche
    • The Double
      • A novella about social anxiety and search for identity
    • Crime and Punishment

Intro

  • Darryl Cooper (T: @martyrmade and IG: @martyrmade) is the creator and the host of The Martyrmade Podcast, and the co-host of The Unraveling podcast with Jocko Willink.
  • This is part 2 of the Underground Spirit episode. Darryl Cooper examines the life and work of Dostoevsky, his introduction to the Russian literary scene, and how narcissistic and paranoid complexes relate to his novels and personal life
  • Host- Darryl Cooper (@martyrmade)

Dostoevsky’s Military Experience

  • When Dostoevsky was 15, his father sent him to the military academy to study engineering
    • He had no interest in engineering or the military as a whole
  • On his journey to the military academy, Dostoevsky saw a drunk man beat the driver of his horse cart
    • Each time the drunk man struck the driver, the driver would whip the horse
    • The disgusting sight remained in Dostoevsky’s memory all his life- a very graphical demonstration of cause and effect
  • The episode of the horse made it into several of Dostoevsky’s novels (Raskolnikov’s dream in Crime and Punishment)
    • This same episode had an intense influence on Nietzsche upon reading it
    • Nietzsche experienced a similar incident – the beating of a horse on the streets of Turin

The Role of Family Ties

  • Dostoevsky and his father had a very intense relationship involving heavy expectations, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy
    • When he was 18, his father died and Dostoevsky believed he was partially responsible
    • The cause of death was a stroke, but there were rumors that the family’s servants murdered him
  • 3 years later, Dostoevsky wrote Poor Folk and entered the St. Petersburg literary scene

St. Petersburg Literary Scene

  • Dostoevsky’s first novel Poor Folk made him the next “big thing” when he was only 24 years old
  • Nietzsche was also 24 when he became a professor of classical studies at the University of Basel (the youngest ever appointed to that post)
  • Vissarion Belinsky, a Russian literary critic, praised Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk because of its socio-political consciousness
  • Dostoevsky was not psychologically and emotionally prepared to handle the pressure;
    • He was in great emotional turmoil because of his father’s death
    • He was torn between the new life in St. Petersburg and the guilt about his father, his home, and the military life he betrayed
  • He thought little about Belinsky, but he surrendered his identity to the group and accepted their praise
    • Dostoevsky became a star in the St. Petersburg literary scene
    • Step by step, Dostoevsky grew in confidence and spoke more freely at the meetings
    • He argued with everyone, even with Belinsky, who brought him into the scene
    • Belinsky was an outspoken atheist, and Dostoevsky did not appreciate the disrespectful attitude to Christianity
    • He made a lot of enemies in the literary scene who waited for a chance to knock him down
  • His fall from grace was almost as rapid as his rise
    • He soon became ridiculed, with others insulting and teasing him behind his back

What Must They Think of me Now?

  • Dostoevsky and Nietzsche are men that may have had overdeveloped narcissistic attributes
  • Dostoevsky’s next novel, The Double is an illustration of what the mind is like in a paranoid state
  • Golyadkin, the main character of the novel is a paranoid narcissist
  • Narcissistic and paranoid complexes are closely related
    • Both narcissistic and paranoid individuals think they are at the center of attention:
      • They become pathologically hyperaware of what they are doing
      • They feel superior to everyone around themselves but desperately seeking their approval
      • “The narcissist deficiency is really persons inability to relate to others as separate people, with their own center and their own trajectory and to interact with them as ontological equals,” – Darryl Cooper
  • These personalities escalate in the literary world and fields without objective measures of achievement
    • They are focused on what other people think of their work, and what other people think of them
    • To be in one of those “worlds” is to be constantly under surveillance
    • This leads to an acute break-up between what is going on inside your head and what you present to the world
  • Dostoevsky well examined the theme of the divided self, sometimes portrayed as unique characters in his novels
  • In Crime and Punishment, the protagonist Raskolnikov’s name is a play on the Russian word raskolnik, meaning “divided,”

Dostoevsky’s Fall from Grace

  • After the fallout with Belinsky, Dostoevsky ends up in the cold and all alone
    • He had no money and developed a gambling addiction
    • Compulsion in almost any form nurtures a divided self
    • A person becomes a passenger at the back of their head that says “don’t do it”
  • For Dostoevsky, the reckoning came in 1849
    • He was about to be executed as a traitor
    • Instead, he served 5 years of exile in Siberia with nothing to read but the Old Testament
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Notes By Dario

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