The Underground Spirit | The Martyrmade Podcast with Darryl Cooper (Part 5)

Key Takeaways

  • On his deathbed, Dostoevsky requested that the parable of the Prodigal Son be read to his children
    • “…it was the parable of transgression, repentance, and forgiveness that he [Dostoevsky] wished to leave as the last heritage to his children.”Joseph Frank
  • Years before Nietzsche wrote “God is dead” in The Gay Science, Dostoevsky’s characters spoke those same ideals (Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov, and Kirilov in Demons)
  • “Father! Why Did They . . . Kill . . . The Poor Horse!”
    • The question that the 7-year-old Raskolnikov asks his father in a dream after witnessing the brutal beating of a horse
    • Crime and Punishment transformed Nietzsche more than any other Dostoevsky novel
  • In 1889, Nietzsche collapsed in the streets of Turin, Italy after protecting a horse from abuse
    • This was the beginning of his descent into madness 
  • Dostoevsky was the prodigal son, on the road to redemption, welcomed back with a celebration
  • Nietzsche was Prometheus, the lone genius embodying the struggle to improve human existence and the risks of overreaching
  • “Nietzsche’s greatness isn’t that he was right about everything, but that he paid his bill down to every last penny for being wrong”Darryl Cooper

Key Books Mentioned

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 5 of the Underground Spirit episode. Darryl Cooper talks about Dostoevsky’s final message, how the characters of Dostoevsky’s novels embody Nietzsche’s key ideas, and the pivotal moment before Nietzsche’s descent into madness
  • Host- Darryl Cooper (@martyrmade)

The Prodigal Son Has Returned

  • On his deathbed, Dostoevsky requested that the parable of the Prodigal Son be read to his children
    • The parable appears in the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament
    • It is a story about a father who has two sons, one of whom is prodigal (wasteful) 
    • The prodigal son asks for his share of the estate, and the father grants his son’s request
    • He wastes his inheritance and eventually becomes broke
    • He returns home to beg his father to take him back as a servant
    • To the son’s surprise, he is welcomed back with a celebration
    • He was lost and now he is found
  • “…it was the parable of transgression, repentance, and forgiveness that he [Dostoevsky] wished to leave as the last heritage to his children.”Joseph Frank
    • The final message is Dostoevsky’s ultimate understanding of his life and the meaning of his work
    • Dostoevsky had also left his father’s house (just like the prodigal son)
    • He realized that it didn’t make him free, only homeless
    • He didn’t want the responsibilities of a son and instead ended up as a slave
    • When he hit rock bottom, he returned home to all the things he left: family, country, people, faith
    • Upon returning home, instead of facing rejection, Dostoevsky was celebrated and praised

Obsessed by the Idea of God

  • When Nietzsche first discovered Dostoevsky’s work in 1887, he realized he found his lost brother
    • Dostoevsky was a man that was at war with demons that Nietzsche himself has been battling all this time
    • Years before Nietzsche wrote “God is dead” in The Gay Science, Dostoevsky’s characters spoke those same ideals (Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov, and Kirilov in Demons)
    • They recognized the same dangers and reached the same conclusion that Nietzsche did 
  • In The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan (who is an atheist and a humanist) talks about Nietzsche’s Übermensch to whoever is around, especially to his younger brother priest Alyosha
    • “We only need to destroy the idea of God in man, as soon as the man deny god, a man-god will appear.” – Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov
  • In Demons, Kirilov argues that after the annihilation of God, man will become a god, and the new man will conquer pain and fear to become a god himself
    • For Nietzsche, the death of god leaves people without a point of reference, thus we become our own gods
    • Nietzsche’s Zarathustra says that the Übermensch will be as different from the present-day man as man is different from the ape
  • Dostoevsky’s Kirolov says that the history of man is divided into two halves; from the gorilla to the annihilation of god and from the annihilation of god to the “…transformation of earth and man where man will be god.” – Alexei Nilych Kirillov in Demons
    • In the months after he read Dostoevsky’s novel Demons, Nietzsche said that his work will split history into two halves

Thus He Preached Madness

  • In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, there is a recurring line – “Thus he preached madness.”
    • Both Nietzsche and Dostoevsky put their ideas into the mouths of madmen in their work 
  • “Any man who wishes to be free must go voluntarily into the madhouse.” – Zarathustra in Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    • Nietzsche’s isolation coupled with physical and psychological agony presumably distorted his reality
    • Coupled with doses of opium and sedatives for many years
    • Spending long periods of time by yourself, without personal interactions can become problematic
  • His ideas became his life- this is what we see in Nietzsche’s later work
    • Sinking deep in your thoughts can be a different interpretation of madness, especially if you can’t find your way out
    • Many of Nietzsche’s ideas were already present in Dostoevsky’s work, but they understand madness very differently
    • Dostoevsky doesn’t see the insane as conduits for the divine as Nietzsche often writes
    • Nietzsche describes them as being able to speak more truly/purely due to their separation from the corrupt society
    • Dostoevsky’s different take on madness could have been influenced by his experience with gambling addiction

The Prodigal Son That Never Returned

  • “Humans all break, that’s what it means to be human”Darryl Cooper
  • If you go against the gods, you will most certainly lose
    • Nietzsche only chose battles that he couldn’t win
    • He was the prodigal son that never surrendered and returned home
  • But it was done out of spite- the only human emotion that remains after all the other
    • Hope, love, sadness, when it’s all gone; humans still have the capacity for spite
    • Most of the unexplainable harm we do to ourselves and each other comes from that fact

“Father! Why Did They . . . Kill . . . The Poor Horse!”

  • The question that the 7-year-old Raskolnikov asks his father in a dream after witnessing the brutal beating of a horse
  • Crime and Punishment transformed Nietzsche more than any other Dostoevsky novel
    • This is where questions of madness and sanity dominate the most
    • Nietzsche was no longer surprised at all the similarities and coincidences between him and the characters in Dostoevsky’s novels
    • The main character Raskolnikov, like Nietzsche, lost his father and brother at a young age and feels repulsed with his mother and sister
    • Raskolnikov aspires to be an Übermensch, a great man above narrow-minded moral questions
    • He wanted to prove that he is above the laws of morality and social conventions, and decides to kill Alyona Ivanovna, the evil pawnbroker
    • Before the act of murder, Raskolnikov dreams of a horse being killed with whips and crowbars
    • The violence of the dream is described in gruesome detail, depicting Raskolnikov’s conflicted nature 
    • He dwelled on the idea of murder after waking up but eventually killed the pawnbroker
    • This was his downfall, as he was unable to cope with his conscience and the post-moral ideas of the Übermensch

When Nietzsche Wept

  • Criminals represent strong minds under sickness
    • This is the lesson Nietzsche learned from Dostoevsky
    • Nietzsche applied that description to his personality
  • He reported having frequent nightmares about horses, so terrifying that he wrote to his friends about them
    • For Nietzsche, the failure of Raskolnikov is not the act of murder, but his inability to bear the weight afterward
  • By the fall of 1888, Nietzsche’s behavior became unpredictable – manic depressive episodes and psychotic breaks
    • Fate was pulling him, there was no element of chance in his life
  • In 1889, Nietzsche collapsed in the streets of Turin, Italy after protecting a horse from abuse
    • This was the beginning of his descent into madness 
  • Dostoevsky was the prodigal son, on the road to redemption, welcomed back with a celebration
  • Nietzsche was Prometheus, the lone genius embodying the struggle to improve human existence and the risks of overreaching
  • “Nietzsche’s greatness isn’t that he was right about everything, but that he paid his bill down to every last penny for being wrong”Darryl Cooper
  • People heard about the genius gone mad in Turin, and for the first time his was acknowledged by a broader public
Martyrmade : , , , ,
Notes By Dario

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