edgecase
Author: StJohn Piano
Published: 2021-02-06
Datafeed Article 202
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262 words - 77 lines - 2 pages




Friend:

Have you read gulag archipelago?



StJohn Piano:

Yes (1-volume abridged version). Hard reading.



Friend:

Is it worth the effort?



StJohn Piano:

Hm. That's not an easy question to answer.

The answer is something like "Yes, but only for those who wish to explore the full range of the human condition, and are mentally strong enough to deal with what they encounter there."

The book itself is gripping. It's a page-turner (which surprised me).

It isn't an "exploitation work", in which you remain a spectator.

Instead, you are drawn in, and cannot avoid examining your own morality, what you might do in such and such a situation, and what you yourself might become, given similar circumstances.

It is a journey into Hell, and you experience it personally, rather than at one remove. [0]

It is not safe.

But it is valuable. You expand your ability to understand other people, and the way that groups of people can behave. You learn to recognise the signs of totalitarianism and despair in a society. You find out just how bad existence can be.

I would say that it's a theological work, not an analytical one.

It demands a lot from the reader. The reader must struggle with it, with his own conception of Existence and the human condition, in the way that Jacob struggled with God.

Hence "hard reading".

You won't really be the same person afterwards.











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[0]
In a similar fashion, the Ancient Greeks, listening to the poets rhythmically chanting the lines of The Iliad and The Odyssey, journeyed personally to Troy, Corcyra, and the underworld.

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