Meet the Underground Man

Despite the number of remarkable books I have read these past months, I haven’t made a single review of even one of them. Probably it is the result of my general inactivity, you know, those post-teen bouts, a phenomenon that I am still trying to make sense of. Be that as it may, one of the books I found rather memorable is Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, which critics say is one of the first existentialist novels.

While existentialist literature is cute, the charm of Notes from the Underground is its fascinating vulnerability, its painful type of psychology, which I found rather reflective of my current lack of activity. The Underground Man is one hell of a philosopher, almost Nietzcheian by standards, sharp and sarcastic, funny but almost annoying that I sometimes think he deserves a single punch in the face.

The book is made of two parts, “The Underground” and “Concerning the Wet Snow.” “The first section is basically a long, long rant, almost a treatise, on several issues, things like ‘enlightened self-interest’, determinism, etc. While some of his expositions are debatable, they are nonetheless stimulating, a trait that any intellectual venture worthy of its name must possess. The second section is a series of anecdotes by the Underground Man before he went to the ‘underground’ in solitary exile. This reveals much of the Underground Man’s attitude towards life, society and others, a very interesting psychological portrait of a man who is easy to despise but also easy to sympathize with. This particular quite for instance is dripping with misogyny yet very difficult to contend:

During the first period arguments between husband and wife end well. In some instances the more a woman loves her husband the more she stirs up quarrels with him. It’s true; I knew one like that: “You know out of love I torment you, so you can feel it.” Do you know a person deliberately torment someone through love? It’s usually women. And the woman thinks to herself: “But afterwards I’ll be sweet and loving that it’s really not a sin to torment him now.”

Since the book is hard to review precisely because of its multi-facatedness, I embarked on creating a very serious anatomical incision of the Underground Man which, pray I utilize my knowledge on anatomy well for this, may suffice for a standard review. Hehe.

(1) a quintessential nihilist; is ridiculously self-critical; dangerously bad-tempered; needs some voluminous amount of Head and Shoulders;

(2) dirty and unwashed, probably unshaven since adolescence, obviously virgin;

(3) has slapped a few unfortunate women (although this is quite debatable since his mental vehemency may not translate into actual violence, as in the case of most self-appointed egoists ; calloused in the index finger (he is an office clerk); unequal muscular development between left hand and right  hand due to chronic masturbation habits by the latter;

(4) weak; may show some signs of arthritis; marked by unsteadiness and constant shaking;

(5) hunched with scoliosis or lack of activity;

(6) the Da Vinci-ish sex god butt on this artist’s depiction seems to me a far semblance to the skinny backside of the Underground Man; probably due to severe philosophizing, his buns must be thoroughly abused with lack of bloodflow typical of office overtimers;

(7) the protruding rib cage says it all; pneumonia, lung cancer, or mere lack of exercise; remember the incident of him obsessively plotting to bump the aloof gentleman to teach him a ‘lesson’, with the said gentleman only perceiving it like a fly landing on his arm, ‘even gave the impression of not noticing’?

(8) full of plaques and holes, constant bleeding due to gingivitis; luckily an ironic inspiration for philosophizing

Others

liver plagued by a severe liver problem, most likely cirrhosis, due to alcohol or malnourished diet; same as in 8; skin is jaundiced and pallid, most likely caused by lack of Vitamin E and sunshine; I also assume that this man has bad notions of physical hygiene, any way bathing is an activity that is not so popular among cerebral people

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4 thoughts on “Meet the Underground Man”

  1. This is one of the best reviews that I’ve read of any book (much credit goes to the anatomical notes). I’ve been forever delaying my reading of The Brothers Karamazov, and reading this makes me want to read Dostoevsky now.

  2. Hmmmm… Existensialism? Since you’re apparently on a high regarding this topic, might I recommend Thus Spoke Zarathustra? I read it, and it’s quite esoteric, but I found myself riveted. I have no idea why. Half of the time, I couldn’t even understand the gist of what the author is talking about.

    1. They say somewhat. I got through the first ages of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and while I enjoyed them, it seems to me more on the philosophical side that on the literary side. I’m racking my brains on every page of it.

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