Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sparkling & Quivering

Napoleon sits on a hill contemplating Moscow, the city he is about to roll into as the citizenry evacuate. He thinks:

"'Yet there she is, lying at my feet, her golden domes and crosses sparkling and quivering in the sunlight. But I will spare her. On those ancient monuments of barbarism and despotism I will inscribe the great words of justice and mercy....And that above all will make Aleksandr smart, I know him.' (For Napoleon the chief import of what had happened lay in his personal contest with Aleksandr.) 'From the heights of the Kremlin -- yes, there is the Kremlin, yes -- I will give them just laws , teach them the meaning of true civilization , and make generations of boyars remember their conqueror with love." -- p. 1046

It's nice when theories turn out correct in life, eh? Such as mine that I would read War and Peace and discover a lot in common between Napoleon and George W. Bush. Hello!

I can hear it now, my trusty copy of The Book crying, "Linda, why hast thou forsaken me?" I can't quite believe it's been more than two weeks since I read and blogged. I'm only 46 pages past where I was then (1000), too. I've been really busy. I have concocted a lot of activities for myself and when I don't have something to do I have been disappearing into the haze of the foreigners watering holes and my English teacher friends and just generally trying to forget the things in life making me uncomfortable. I also have to finish reading the awful book we are doing for our reading group, which meets in two days and I have 200 or so pages to go.

But I just wanted to check in and let the world know that I have found this whole the-wounded-into-the-Rostovs'-house thing fascinating. I am on the edge of my seat about Natasha and Prince Andrei. You had to know it was going to be him.

And besides, my slacking off gives you slowpokes a chance to catch up!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Must hitch up, time to hitch up!

I paused my War and Peace quest this past week. Hitting page 1000 made me realize that I've really been progressing through it at a steady clip, and it will be over before I know it. I am going to miss this little world that I've entered, and I will miss the characters I've come to know, and I will truly miss gaining all my little insights from it. But mostly I will miss just being in it, experiencing it finally after years of considering taking the plunge.

You are welcome to read the above paragraph as if it is about Korea instead of War and Peace. It might well be.

Today I brought the book with me to work, and thus had it with me after work, reading it on the subway to and from downtown this evening. I feel like I'm getting reacquainted with Ellen and Pierre and everyone. Pierre basically left Borodino shaking his head and asking "What the...?" Boy is he going through some emotional-philosophical upheaval!

Tonight on the subway I met a guy from Afghanistan. ! I mean, who ever meets someone from Afghanistan? It was really, really interesting to talk to him. I hope we can become friends. The weirdest thing -- apart from the very fact of having a conversation with someone from Afghanistan -- was that we automatically had something in common being foreigners in Korea. That's how bizarre it is, at times, to be here.

Naturally, the conversation at one point touched on Bush and American soldiers. (Those being two VERY different things, of course.) That was interesting, too.

So Pierre has left Borodino and seems to be ready to just say, what IS this? What are we all doing, and why, and how? Count Rostopchin gets into it with him about the proclamation, and Pierre simply stands there, his expression not changing. I imagine after what he's just witnessed, a little thing like this bigwig warning him off seems utterly ridiculous, although he likely will have to disappear.

Prior to that, with no room at the inn, Pierre dozes in his carriage dreaming of sitting at the table with his benefactor and many others, epiphanic wisdom floating into his brain. Tolstoy captures so well that sensation of waking up and then trying to get back into your dream, and how disappointing it is when the scene changes.

I feel bad for him about his crazy wife, but I did like that he didn't seem to care one whit about indulging in conversation about it. He's so over it. He's so over so many things, but he's still seeking, too. At long last, I can relate to Pierre. He's just being bombarded by insights and life. He can't help it.

"The one thing Pierre desired now with his whole soul was quickly to get away from the horrifying sensations he had undergone that day, to return to the ordinary conditions of life, and to sleep peacefully in his own bed in his own room. He felt that only in the ordinary conditions of life would he be able to understand himself and all he had seen and experienced. But these ordinary conditions were nowhere to be found." -- p. 1007