“The consciousness of life is higher than life, the knowledge of happiness is higher than happiness”—that is what we have to fight against! And I shall, I shall fight against it! If only we all wanted it, everything could be arranged immediately.”
From The Dream of a Ridiculous Man by Fyodor Dostoevsky
I stumbled upon an audiobook version of this short essay by Dostoevsky purely by chance. Seeing the title alone and being a fan of his other works, I couldn’t resist. I’ve always thought that when you’re ready for answers to your own personal questions, you’ll find them in literature, always by chance. True gems!
Anyway, to the story: essentially the Ridiculous Man has always known he was a “madman” and was laughed at by his peers. Growing older and making his way through his studies, he realizes the more knowledge he gains, the more he is consciously aware of his predicament:
“I suddenly felt that it made no difference to me whether the world existed or whether nothing existed anywhere at all. I began to be acutely conscious that nothing existed in my own lifetime. At first I couldn’t help feeling that at any rate in the past many things had existed; but later on I came to the conclusion that there had not been anything even in the past, but that for some reason it had merely seemed to have been. Little by little I became convinced that there would be nothing in the future, either. It was then that I suddenly ceased to be angry with people and almost stopped noticing them.”