Before any of you get the impression of Dostoyevsky as the sentimental love-struck author here is another moving passage towards the end of Crime and Punishment. Throughout the book Raskoknikov suffers with a type of feverish illness which makes his perception hazy. In the prison hospital in Siberia Raskolnikov remembers the dreams which he had while in fever induced delirium.
“Raskolnikov was in hospital during the last weeks of Lent and Easter week. When convalescing, he remembered the dreams he had while running a high temperature and in delirium. He dreamt the whole world was ravaged by an unknown and terrible plague that had spread across Europe from the depths of Asia. All except a few chosen ones were doomed to perish. New kinds of germs – microscopic creatures which lodged in the bodies of men – made their appearance. But these creatures were spirits endowed with reason and will. People who became infected with them at once became mad and violent. But never had people considered themselves as wise and as strong in their pursuit of truth as these plague-ridden people. Never had thought their decisions, their scientific conclusions, and their moral convictions so unshakable or incontestably right. Whole villages, whole towns and peoples became infected and went mad. They were in a state of constant alarm. They did not understand each other. Each of them believed that the truth only resided in him, and was miserable looking at others, and smote his breast, wept, and wrung his hands. They did not know whom to put on trial or how to pass judgment; they could not agree what was good or what was evil. They did not know whom to accuse or whom to acquit. Men killed each other in a kind of senseless fury. They raised whole armies against each other; but these armies, when already on the march, began suddenly to fight amongst themselves, their ranks broke, and the soldiers fell upon one another, bayoneted and stabbed each other, bit and devoured each other. In the cities the tocsin was sounded all day long: they called everyone together, but no one knew who had summoned them or why they had been summoned, and all were in a state of great alarm. The most ordinary trades were abandoned because everyone was propounding his own theories, offering his own solutions, and they could not agree; they gave up tilling the ground. Here and there people gathered in crowds, adopted some decision and vowed not to part, but they immediately started doing something else, something quite different from what they had decided. And they began to accuse each other, fought and killed each other. Fires broke out; famine spread. Wholesale destruction stalked the earth. The pestilence grew and spread farther afield. Only a few people could save themselves in the whole world: those were the pure chosen ones, destined to start a new race of men and a new life, to renew and purify the earth, but no had ever seen these people, no had heard their words or their voices.”
Growing up on a farm I suppose what struck me here was nestled in the midst of people stabbing and devouring each other on the one hand and “wholesale destruction” on the other is the simple line, “they gave up tilling the ground.” The question was asked on my “Rose Machine” post whether the greenhouse I work in has “soil”. I suppose the short is yes there is soil, but there is certainly no land to grow flowers and I also question whether there is earth. Containers of prepared “soil” are shipped in and flowers are grown analogously to our society and to our TV’s (pre-plasma). Soil in the greenhouse is pixelated. Each flower grows independently of the other. At first glance there is an image of unity across the flower “beds”. However, like looking closer at your TV screen it becomes apparent that the whole is composed of entirely independent units offering an illusion of the whole. This is no integrated body. The individual is managed to control the whole. Hmmmm . . . tilling the ground, more to reflect on here (a fertile topic :))