One thing I love about Tolstoy’s writing is with how much insight and empathy he’s making the characters of his novels come alive. I learn so much about myself, and humanity in general by reading Anna Karenina, a novel written more than 100 years ago—much more than I’ve gained from reading a hundred books on psychology. In this episode, I’m geeking out on some of my favorite characters of the story, and like the beautifully lighthearted Oblonsky.
[00:00:00] I’d seen a little documentary about the life of toll story. And I had to jump over a couple of pieces where I thought, I don’t want to know the story and ending of these books, I want to read them. I don’t want to get this in this documentary, but, one thing that apparently told story believed it is that novels.
They’re not for entertainment, but they are the best vehicle to teach us about that life and other people and help us understand how even the most foreign persons to us, what their internal world looks like. Why they do what they do, what their inner struggles are and hands, help us understand each other better and therefore make us less stranger.
So something along those, those lines I’m paraphrasing. That makes perfect sense. When you read an occur Amina, you hear this little bit, you go, yeah, that makes perfect sense. Yeah. Perfect. Yeah. Cause he [00:01:00] does in incredible detail and in human beauty share a light of the inner world of people. There are so often so drastically different from the outer worlds or outer appearances.
Yeah. Um, just like the characters in there too. It’s like, when I read it, I’m like very judgmental to have these people out, you know? And then I read further and I’m like, ah, ah, that’s why I get it. Okay. And then, and then there’s there’s moments like one character that I have loved this step on our card each in Annakarina because he’s such a carefree, happy go.
Lucky. I will just arrange my life in ways that give me pleasure. And no matter how much you want to point me to all the things I do wrong, I look at them and I honestly just shoulder shrug and go, you know, life who’s perfect. What’s perfect. Let’s just have a good time. You know, it’s just, he is. [00:02:00] So, you know, he seems so, um, Unburdened by a conscious or morality or what other people would think he is in such good spirits.
And just in some ways he reminds me of Zorba the Greek because he’s just attacking life, you know, with open arms, just once all of it just wants to live as much life as humanly possible is a very lively character, very a life human in other ways, because it’s not the highlight of the book, you don’t get the depth that Zorba has.
Right. And kind of seeing a man that is. Fought many wars. It has seen so much life in life and death and murder and tragedy and comedy and everything like Zorba is encompassing all of humanity, both the comedy and the tragedy of it. And therefore he loves life so much because he’s lived so [00:03:00] much life.
You don’t get that with stupid step on our cartridge, where he seems to have been placed in a lucky position in society. You know, I had a lucky lottery ticket in life is just smooth swimmingly, but he is aware of it and he is willing to make his life harder. Then he has to like, there’s other people that are just as lucky maybe, but their internal conflicts make their life a bit tougher.
Right. That doubts their fears, that this did that. And he sees all that. He’s aware of all of it. And he goes, why should I, why should I punish myself or burdened myself in ways I don’t have to, you know, life is whatever it is. I’m in this lucky seat. I’m going to enjoy the fuck out of it. I’m not going to apologize for any of it.
So even a character like that, that is presented in, you know, it’s kind of the, the th that is an arc type, right? The [00:04:00] charming, what is, what would we call that? The, the charming, bad guy. It’s not even a bad guy. It’s like the charming selfish person, right? Um, the reason, so many, um, stories, we see a character that’s a bit too selfish.
That is not really acting that is acting in ways that if they acted in those ways towards us in real life, we would be hating that person will be really upset at them, but because it’s in this story removed from us and because they do it with a smile and a wink and there’s something charming about it, there’s something enchanting about it.
Maybe it’s the fantasy that maybe I could like, maybe it’s the pleasure we get from imagining maybe it’s me. But I, it that’s a character that’s been in so many movies in so many stories that it must be a universal thing. Where we imagine, oh, we live vicariously through them in the story, right. We’re we’re imagining how great it must, must feel to be that person.
Right. And [00:05:00] to just wink through life and just do the things that you like. And there’s a, there’s a holistic pleasure in being selfish in ways that is hard to enjoy where you have morale. When you have a conscious, it’s really hard to fully enjoy being completely selfish, but then seeing it in a character that has charm, right.
That is with that wind at us as an audience and says, I know what you think of me. And I see it too, but you know, whatever life is life like when somebody has the self-awareness and, uh, the Schumer and the hubris to be that way, there’s something that we love in those characters. Although in real life, we know we would have.
Right. Maybe similarly as the hero that goes and kills every single person that had anything to do with the wrong, that happened to him. And like in real life, we wouldn’t want anybody that thinks something bad, happened to them to take a machine gun and just kill, you know, hundreds of people along the way to justice.
But in a movie there’s a satisfaction in that revenge that kind of. You know, [00:06:00] unstopped violent, revenge, right? There’s something there there’s a, a pleasure living vicariously through that because we won’t ever do it in, in real life. And what wouldn’t find pleasure of seeing it in real life necessarily.
, so stepping our cartage is that kind of a character and throughout the entire book, as he appears, I would always get special pleasure from his selfishness, you know, um,
laughed and laughed at, even in the, in the way he talks with Levin. Just in the situation where early on in the book, they, uh, they’re like Levin and
They both are kind of like having put their cards on the table yet, but both are interested in, in kitty. Right. And then he meets with living and then he say, oh yeah, let’s catch up. And yeah, I know what what’s what’s on your mind and in your heart, come on, let’s talk about right. And then he talks about him and he tells you, and he advises say in, and he encourages him to, to talk with Katie.
Right. And, and, and, and gives her [00:07:00] like advice, how to do it. Right. How to propose and all of that. Right. And then, and it it’s so heartfelt. He really wants, he says, I believe you are the right for her. Right. The same, I don’t know, the next day or something I could see meets with, uh, with uh Wronski and he has the same conversation.
You’re the right guy for her, you know, you should do this, you should do that. But it’s in both cases in that moment, it’s like heartfelt. He’s just like, oh, this is a good man. She used to beautiful, but they should be together. Right. But he doesn’t connect.
He in his written that character so great because typically you would judge him for it but because toll story writes him in a way where in that moment he felt it when he was telling it to 11. But as he’s now seeing blocky, who’s also a good man and his good qualities. And he really likes it in that moment. He loves Wronski once had to help him, you know? So he’s able to love both of these men that in this situation where, um, you know, competitors [00:08:00] without any.
Internal doubt or conflict because it’s just in the moment he’s jelly go lucky and he loves people in life. And he just, in that moment, you are Greg. You know, here’s what I would do if I were you to get her, you know, and he tells him what be told, even I think lemon and how to like, this is what 11 is going to do and you should play it.
And it’s such a fine difference between somebody that plays people right. To make them like him, or the way that step in our cottage is written as a character. He gives those people advice heartfelt, right? He is, he, in that moment, he loves them. And he’s so free of what did I do yesterday and is this good?
And should I do this? And should I do that? And he’s just in the moment, what is feels right. And feels good. Let me help this front, you know? And so yeah, the, the motivation, why makes such a big difference? You know, reading Tulsa, I don’t know. [00:09:00] I don’t know why that question came up. Oh, I know why it yesterday as I was reading I’m now, you know, I think 80% through the books, I’m in the final inning of the book.
And yesterday I was thinking about the character of Levin, right? Where living the way he writes him throughout the book is one of the best Schumanns in the story in terms of just what we would, you know, how we would judge somebody on ethics and character, like who here tries his hardest to be a good person.
Levin would be probably number one, not always in succeeding, but in trying to be a good person. Right. He seems to be trying the most. And then I was thinking. But also 11 is if you [00:10:00] ask who is one of the most tormented characters throughout the entire book now, maybe at the end, Ana and Wronski are going to be more tormented than anybody else, but throughout the entire book, most tremendous person for sure.
From the first page to the last, he’s always in some kind of an inner conflict doubt, something stresses him. He’s not sure there’s always something going on. Yeah. I love that scene where he comes back to his estate and the countryside right after the thing with kitty didn’t work out and everything. And he saw his brother who’s like in this destitute situation and then he’s going back and he said, oh, I shall change myself.
I will work harder and live more humble. And I will not be carried away by some wild passion and, you know, and then he’s arriving in his home and there’s like all the, the things that he, you know, has to take care of. And he’s already realizing like, ah, it’s not going to be that easy to do all this change.
And then he’s already slowly morphing into falling back [00:11:00] into the old patterns, but also blaming himself for it. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. He he’s, he is like the prototypical torment. That’s human, you know? And then so many times throughout the story, he changes his mind. Right. Oh, he goes like one direction. Oh, I’m going to do this now.
And then he finds some pleasure and elation in. Now I have this, I have found the answer, the simple, this is going to be my path. Ha there’s relief, unburdening. This is going to be my path. And then something happens is like, goes off the path. And he realizes, no, that was not my path. He’s again, like, which path should I take?
Is it, this is it. And then he finds another thing. He goes, okay, now I got it. This is my path. I’m happy. Now this is good. You know? And then he goes, goes off track again. Um, yeah. There’s so there’s such depth to that character. But yesterday I was thinking at one point it’s intense, interesting how we, how much intent [00:12:00] and I don’t know, I would say in a struggle, but so, so here’s, here’s the thought that I had yesterday.
If you took two characters. Two people and one, one of them, oh, both of them did the exact same amount of bad deeds, right? Let’s say both of them were robbing banks and they were doing it in the exact same way. And you wrote that. One of them was completely piece of being a robber and stealing from people and making little children afraid when they see him with a gun and all that, he was just not caring about anybody and was just purely selfish.
And you made the other character in internal conflict, always wanting to stop robbing banks, feeling terrible when he saw the child being afraid of him, just always in [00:13:00] debt. And then at moments thinking, no, I have to Rob banks and then doing it and then doing it for maybe good reasons because he wants to help his mother.
Who’s sick or there’s, there’s this, all these conflict, there’s all this quote, unquote, goodness or ethics inside of him. But if you just looked at their actions, it will be indistinguishable. They’ll just woke up in the morning. We’d go grab that gun, Rob a bank, leave and do whatever with the money. If the actions were exactly the same, but one person had internal tool moral, we would all say the person with the internal tool is the better shooter.
Right? Yeah. We would say is better in some ethical, religious, whatever. Spiritual weight. This is a bet. If I had to choose, who’s a better person, that person. And I was thinking, why is that? Right? Because on the one hand, just purely on actions, maybe, you know, one could make the [00:14:00] argument, the person that didn’t know better that did not have the inner voice or the ethics to stop a slow them down is a better person because that person was acting in accordance with their thoughts.
And the person that knew better and was struggling in, in conflict was constantly losing then a battling going over to the whatever bad side or doing these terrible things, although then you better. But I think when we, when we S when we know that someone has, you know, Has inner conflict that is driving him or her to try to become better.
That points to a possible redemption, right? A possible turnaround, a possible transformation. This person might become a better person, or at least this person is being punished internally, as they’re acting in these wrong ways. [00:15:00] They’re not having evil satisfaction of being internally at peace and in harmony with their selfishness.
But it’s interesting, right? Because this is purely, these are philosophical, emotional ways of judging, right? It’s not a rational because an action is an extra is an action. Right. But, and at the same time, like I think why we would judge the conflicted person as being like a better character. Right. The other one would probably be more popular because there’s less conflict.
So it’s more enjoyable too, to follow and be around that person. Yeah. You know, clarity is so incredibly attractive. That’s why con men are so, so good. Still blows my mind. That commented mean convict men, but meant confidence, men, but common are so attractive and [00:16:00] successful because they have confidence, which is something everybody’s lacking.
Nobody enjoys being around people that are overly conflicted within themselves. Right. We might love these people, but it’s not enjoyable being around them and we don’t want to be them. But when you meet somebody that seems to have it all, that seems to know it, all. That seems to be in an inner peace. And have found knowledge that they completely are confident in.
We’re like, how the fuck did this person get there? I want some of that want some of that confidence, clarity and calm. So, yeah, it’s also, you know, and then, oh, go ahead. Yeah, on, on the other end of the spectrum, I feel like what you mentioned is like the most inner conflict that person, at least until where I have read so far, I’m just like at the beginning of part two, um, is, is to me the brother of Levin, what’s his name?
Nikolai Nicole. Yeah, yeah, W where he is. So like, against the [00:17:00] capitalist and the ruling class, and he wants to help the poor and suppress people. Right. But then there’s like someone serving him food and he’s shouting angrily at that guy and he’s eating his food, drinking his wine, greedy, like with more, he has more greed in, in like this little thing then like a capitalist in exploiting the working class.
Right. And there’s, he doesn’t even see that. Consciously, but there’s so much conflict just in that short chapter where he describes this, where it’s like, oh my God, this is both painful and delicious to observe. Yeah. That, that is also an interesting character. Uh Eleven’s brother. Yep. So repelling, right?
Like you, you, you can sense, like, I don’t want to stay in this room with this guy anymore, right? Through the eyes of 11 later in the story, you can sense that his brother was incredibly sweet boy. And maybe like at one point 11 says he was not, you know, it was not made for this world or something along those lines.
And you can tell this is the, sometimes the type of person that [00:18:00] might’ve been too sensitive for life. And, uh, you know, when you are too sensitive for life, you can turn one way or the other either you get overly aggressive. Right. And just everything is a fight. Everything is because everything is a threat.
When you are so hypersensitive, you either fight everything and everybody’s evil, or you retreat from everything and go completely numb. Don’t see, don’t feel don’t care. And his brother went to this hyper aroused, fighting everything. Everybody’s evil, everything is he’s wronged. Everything that happens in the world, his own personal, wrong towards him is so tormented than any task like here you would call, like, yeah, I can see why these other people in my circle thinks so lowly of him.
Right. Because they see him drunken and angry, shouting in this, you know, dirty clothes. And then, but I know my brother’s pure soul. Right. I understand him deep. And it’s like, you see like how different the outer and in a world [00:19:00] of, yeah. And later in the book, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but yeah, please, to be, to me, The most touching moment in that entire book is a interaction between 11 and his brother much later in the book as incredible in the way the total store, right.
His rights. It is so incredibly powerful, and also rings so true, like in a lot of moments in the book, but this was one that stood out to me, particularly I have seen, this is not a big secret. Like his brother becomes ill, right? That’s not a big spoiler. I have seen, people in my family, my grandmother and my grandfather.
I mean, my, my at a bunch of people die and get sick in my family, but I had two people that were really, really sick. And old and were living with us for their final years as their health was deteriorating, more and more. And so I’ve [00:20:00] seen people when they’re terminally ill and they live with you, they sleep with you, they become little babies again, and how you have to take care of how they react and how they are and was reading that part of the, of the story it was written.
So truthfully, in terms of like me recognizing what I had experienced that I thought, alright, Tolstoy must have lift through this, right. To be able to write this so well, you can’t just do certain things. You cannot just imagine. You have to have lived to be able to tell a story like this, this accurately, and in many places in the book, this is why I think, um, This is one of my fascinations with people that are incredible writers, is that when they, by writing these characters, so with such
truthful a life power, when they’re able [00:21:00] to really bring these characters to life fully in full dimensionally in these situations, it makes me think this is some, this, these writers understood life at a much deeper level than most other people, because you cannot write this well without understanding the person as well.
And now it’s one thing to understand one kind of person or yourself really well. That’s another thing. If you can write a net epic story that evolves. So many different characters that involve so many different things from people, arguing politics, over war or conflict, infidelity, sexual tension, you know, childbirth, the pain of a mother, like being able to come alive and right.
Like a mother who’s felt the pain of losing children or right. Like, you know, like, right. Like all these people, you have to have understood live at a much [00:22:00] deeper, much more meaningful level than most others. Right. And it’s one thing to sit there and talk about and say, this is the problem of women. And this is the problem of man.
And this is the, this is how life works to philosophize in some like theoretical way. It’s another to write thousands and thousands of words that bring all of human life, a whole fucking lifetime. That is as real as if these people have lived. Yeah. And then a hundred years later, people in a completely different cultural context, read this on God, God.
Yeah. I know, you know who this, this reminds me of and you know, oh, I’ve been there. It’s amazing. Like you, to me, these writers stand way above the philosophers of their time, right? Or wherever in terms of just purely who has dug the deepest in the soil of life, [00:23:00] human life, the human soul, right. Who has gone the deepest and digging to try to understand that human soul and what human life is all about.
The people that were able to write stories that hundreds and hundreds of years later touch people all around the world because it’s so there’s so much truth in it, into this truth in it, in such depth and breadth that you recognize it. And we talked about this before. Will you read something that you felt a hundred times before four, and you’ve never had anyone, including yourself being able to express it so closely to the true experience, use words in such magical formula that you’re like, wow, this is hitting the feeling and experience exactly to the dock and everything.
I didn’t know this, but everything before then, when I was trying to explain or heard stories about a similar [00:24:00] situation was all much further away from how that situation felt, right. It makes you realize the truth that you never thought about, but then like dominoes falling, you realize, wow, I’ve had, I felt that this a thousand times in my life, but I never was never present for it.
I never realized that I’ve gone through this emotion myself, um, at so powerful. I love that so much. Uh, about the great writers, uh, and that’s part of why I love reading Tolstoy. The, what I wanted to see originally was even with stepping our cardiac, right? Who’s like such a jolly it’s way more, one dimensional character, comparing him to a bunch of others in the book, but even him that I loved to love in the book, right.
Then I’d love to love for all his flaws in the book. There’s one moment, um, much later in the book where for the first time, not for the first time, [00:25:00] but for maybe, you know, in a rare, you know, more rare occasion, Tolstoy story goes into a lot more detail of dollies was stepping up, cartage wife, her thinking, her thinking through her life, her life situation.
You know, further into the book. And for the first time as I was reading her, right, like her, how she sees live, the struggles, the pain that this, the dad and the kind of spot that step in our college has put her in. As I was reading that, and it was contrasting even much harder with somebody else’s relationship where the person was treating his wife completely differently.
This was the first time that as I was reading that those pages, I was losing the joy for how much I love Stella cartridge. You know, I was like, uh, you know, but then, you know, you keep reading it, it comes up again. You’re like whatever. And even that I enjoyed, I loved [00:26:00] that. Although I’ve been vicariously loving this, you know, not perfect human throughout the book, I’m reading this thing about his wife now.
And I go, ah, yeah, He is a piece of shit. You know, this is, he is truly a piece of shit. And then, you know, you keep a reading, you look out buddy, he’s such a nice guy and he doesn’t know any better anymore. That is another thing that I think for a long time now I’ve started to admire. And I was never, I I’ve only come aware of this as I’ve started reading the great literature and the, the, the kind of great novels, um, that I love people.
And I admire writers who are able to write multidimensional characters, right? This is something I’ve always loved in people. I think it took me a while to re realize it and say, I like people that are multidimensional that are not one dimensional. I let people that are [00:27:00] conflicting in some ways. Like, I like somebody that is a hyper capitalist, but it’s also, you know, Somebody that is a super sensitive and a sweetheart and artistic and listens to music and has to cry.
Like somebody that’s like a hardest in one area and super soft in another area. And somebody that’s not as easy to figure out like to me, those people are richer in terms of the amount of life they represent and how they work rich life, all of us. But I never realized how much I admired being able to storytell this way.
And I think it’s because that is the, you know, writing a story where this is the bad guy and the bad guy is bad, and this is the good guide, like a Marvel fucking Marvel comic, right. Or at least Marvel movies. I don’t know about the comics. I haven’t read the comics, but Marvel movies are the most one dimensional bullshit ever.
Always the good guys are really, really good and the [00:28:00] bad guys are really, really bad. The end, right? More or less now, of course there’s exceptions to this, but if you, especially the big blockbuster movies where the hero is just such a sweet guy, like a captain America movie, right.
Captain America is so annoyingly good as a character. There’s no edge to him. There’s nothing, there’s no call at least like a Spider-Man. It’s funny because he’s a teenager and he has some internal conflicts about being a superhero and the people he puts in danger and all that, this when there’s no conflict within the hero.
And when there’s no conflict within the villain, it’s just so false that I can’t be sucked into this. I cannot lose myself in the story. I at all times am aware I’m watching a bullshit movie, right. And so I cannot. And the more multifaceted somebody is able to right. People, the more alive they become, because I honestly believe that [00:29:00] this is life.
Like nobody is just bad or good. Right. Fucking Hitler was great to his dogs. How was telling this to a friend? That’s like, uh, a dog. I love her. And she couldn’t, she loves dogs so much. And she’s so indoctrinated in the belief that if you love animals, you must be a good one. That she was like, no, this is not really.
I love that. And in her mind, she was trying to make this thing about like, well, what kind of docs? Because she wanted to think of like only the pure bred German and also maybe the aggressive dogs, you know, like, did he, the breed like really aggressive, strong guy, maybe that would go with a Hitler. And it’s like, and he was like super sweet.
He loved animals so much. He didn’t eat meat. Like he was a vegetarian and he was a painter and an artist. Yes. And he left. He left. Yeah. He loved nature. Like he loved many things that really nice people love and [00:30:00] would think that if somebody loves nature and cares about nature, loves animals and cares about animals and loves art music painting.
How could that person be a bad person? Right. And so to his dogs, Hitler was probably an amazingly nice. Energy and human or whatever. Right. Um, do not just to his dogs, like all of us as we, as we live to somebody we’re a tyrant to somebody we’re a savior, right? Th th we’re not one thing to everybody and to ourselves as well.
When we just, if we’re just honest with how many inner battles and fights we have, well, who’s battling and fighting. If we’re just one thing, if we’re just like on one side of the table, why where’s the conflict coming from? It’s because we’re not one thing. And at different times, different parts of us take over and act.
And also it’s not just us, it’s other people as well. You [00:31:00] could be a pur or have perfectly nice intentions in somebody that is in a situation like, uh, like, uh Eleven’s brother who’s. So over-sensitive, and has been, you know, in his growing up has felt so much. Attack and danger that he’s gotten so angry with life, that everything, and everybody’s at fault and attacking them in bad and evil.
You meet a person like that. No matter what you do, they will find a way to mistrust you too. Or to attach evil intentions behind your actions in their eyes. You’re going to be a bad person. There’s nothing you can do. It doesn’t really matter in some universal sense that what they interpret is quote, unquote, wrong from your perspective, in their reality, you an evil person.
Right? Um, and so when you can, right people in the, in this book, like in our, , her Anina, there’s ebbs and flows of how much this is another thing I love, the more you get to know people. The more, it [00:32:00] ebbs and flows on how much you like or dislike them or how you feel towards them. Like you start liking one person and then you really dislike them.
And then you kind of like have real empathy, love for them. And then you’re really like angry at them. It adds and flows as they make different decisions that leads them down different paths. It never stays the same. You never feel one, one singular thing about somebody. Right. And even I’ll tell you like with a character like 11, one interesting thing is, I mean, those characters are all so rich and multifaceted that I’m sure that, I mean, I know for a fact that people will love and hate drastically different things about.
Yeah. So I’m telling you, you and I would be like laughing at stepping out carnage and thinking about it though, dude, who doesn’t care, many, many husbands would vicariously, you know, like him in the book, because like, I wish I was that much of [00:33:00] an asshole just enjoy myself, but I I’m pretty sure that most, you know, wife’s reading that book from the get go really dislikes service sip on Ocado and finding very little charm in him, you know, but, or, and also the reason why you like and dislike my change over time, like 11, I could easily see one thing that people, a certain type of person would really like in him is how serious he was about his work.
Right. How much he cared about farming and how much he cared about having his affairs in order. He’s one of the more competent people in the book, right? There’s all these like highest society bullshit that is going on, where they’re having meetings, where they talk about nothing and they, they politic and they chit-chat.
And to him, all, this is so fucking, so crushing. He’s like, I don’t know what these people want. I don’t care about any of this theatrical of this. I just want to do real things. Right. I care about real things. And so I could see a lot of, you know, a certain type [00:34:00] of person really admiring that and liking and connecting with that part.
And then later in the book, when something really nice happens to his life, he really lets all of that go for a while, at least. And he doesn’t care and he lets everything slide and I could see, like, I didn’t really care about that part, but as I was reading it, I thought if somebody really loved that competence part of him at the beginning, he might really hate him.
I don’t judge him hardly. For letting these things slide, uh, at this point of the bum, I just fucking love when you have a book like this with, so in such depth and breadth that, you know, you could read this book a hundred times and get completely different experiences from it. And, you know, a hundred people could read this and if they sat there to talk about it, they would be very different nuggets and tidbits and moments that move them because it’s so alive.
It’s so it is like life itself, where if we all went through a tragic or, you know, incredibly [00:35:00] positive, a moving experience, there’d be many, many different stories, many different types of memories of what happened. Um, that to me, S such powerful art where art is reflecting life, better back to us than anything else that we could think of.
Um, that’s really, really amazing.
I almost wonder if somebody would like Wronski because I feel like the kind of person that would like Wronski is the kind of person that wouldn’t read a book like that. See me judging you. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Bronski, I’m not surprised that you don’t like him, right. That’s not surprising at all. yeah, it’s interesting.
It is, especially in the beginning of the book. I mean, he also over it, I mean, I’ll say over time in the book, I liked him more in the beginning is just such a like empty vessel. Right. It’s just so empty. Like the prince, I don’t know if you’re at that part, but the father. It’s like most accurately, just like, it’s not saying those words, [00:36:00] but he basically says if all just bimbos, they’re just stupid fucking pretty boys that are rich and know nothing and have zero character.
They’re all just fucking the same idiot. I also love the interplay between Kitty’s father and mother, so delicious. It reflects so much true life. in that sense, actually, maybe, maybe this is one of the few situations. Maybe there are many, and I’m not aware of it, but this is one, dynamic where Tulsa is actually more one dimensional.
He writes the father, very lovingly and tenderly, and the mother really kind of superficially shallow unlikable. Now I have many. And I know I’ve an aunt and uncle that come to mind immediately. I’ve known many older couples that from external observation, I would, could be like, yeah, that’s exactly who they were.
You know, the father is actually right about a lot of these things, but he’s just like, ah, lets himself [00:37:00] be pushed to the side. He was just resent, resentful, mumbling. And the mother is like be aggressive manager of life and creating all this drama because she’s doing things for the wrong reasons.
It’s kind of the annoying mother and the, you know, kind but soft father, right. That kind of a dynamic is something I recognize in real life, but he never bothers to write from an internal point of view from the mother, from Katie’s mother’s side, to understand her a little bit better. Like the fear. She has the motivations to make a bit more kind or at least understandable.
And he never, he never condemns the father for being, which is the number one sin of this kind of father. And I’ve done this myself as a husband and father where, because you’re not winning the battles, you just stop caring and you’re just complaining then my life. And I see this another father that comes to mind immediately.
It’s [00:38:00] always in this, like in the corner, the entire family decides something really stupid. it’s like obvious, this is going to be a bad idea. And then the father’s like, I think this is stupid. We shouldn’t do this because X, Y, Z reason. And then they’re all still wanting to do it. And then they do it.
And then the, the problem comes up that the father had foreseen and everybody goes, oh my God, this problem. And the father’s like, well, I told you, but he’s always in the corner talking to himself, Cause he is, he is given. I right. He’s like given up that he never puts on trial. He never hints at the fault of the father for knowing better, but having basically, so rendered the driving wheel to the mother, it’s made me actually, like when I read about like Katie’s father, I kind of, it made me wonder, I wonder how tall stays marriage is.
Like, I know he had a lot of kids, right? Maybe deep recognition and also a little bit of blinders on, on the site of [00:39:00] significantly. From the other side of this, you can definitely sense a kindness towards the father of kitty and not so much kindness towards the mother. Now he could have written her worse.
He didn’t write even there, even the most one dementia or one of the more one dimensional characters. The mother of kitty, he has not made her a caricature because you could easily write her even more evil or more annoying, not even more annoying. Right. This is what you would get in TV shows or in movies, right.
Where it’s like the, the stepmother though, the, the knowing grandmother or something, it’s a bit more of a caricature. He didn’t push it that far. He didn’t right. It’s still subtle. But with her, he’s just, you know, she’s kind of a, she’s kind of a petty, slightly superficial, not that wise. Mother and the father.
Yeah. I love the scene where she like calls the, this [00:40:00] doctor kitties in despair. And then the result is like, nobody understands what the doctor says, but they have to go on a trip. Yes. The father, the entire time is like what kitty kitty is upset and is not eating and not looking well because she’s heartbroken and we’re bringing in a doctor and it’s like a pop is con artist that, uh, you know, check that, that just babbles on, doesn’t say anything, but it’s very important in his proclamation of what she may or may not have.
And the mother is just like, oh my God. You know, thankfully there’s this really famous doctor that will now like fix the situation. And now we’re going to go on this fucking trip that we would have gone anyway. Right. Yeah. All, this is a big fear to appease the mother. Katie knows it’s bullshit. She knows I’m just heartbroken.
The father is like, she’s just heartbroken, but the mother needs a doctor so that her fears are comped. But see, [00:41:00] so that’s not an uncommon situation, but he doesn’t bright. He lacks the empathy for that mother to write about how terrifying fear is for what if my there’s something wrong with my daughter, which is a debilitating fear to mothers that fathers never quite fully I can get to.
Right. We’re always worried about our children, but we’re not as scared and afraid as their mothers usually are. And so the smallest thing, the father’s like, ah, it’s got to be a right. And the mother’s instantly like online research and calling friends, what has this is? There’s something wrong with my child.
Um, and from a former. Father’s perspective. I could, I can easily see how I would just want to judge this as like irrationality, right. And just being Dumble wrong. But if you have more empathy, I think you could write that Mo you could write something that would [00:42:00] make you understand where that terror and fear comes from from the mother.
Even if it’s irrational, she cannot control it. Why can’t you control it? Maybe there’s something deeply moving there, but Tulsa doesn’t bother to go there probably because that’s one thing that he doesn’t care for. Who knows, who knows. Right. Maybe, uh, it’s hard to attach intentions to somebody like that.
Um, but it’s one of those few characters where it’s just, you know, it, it’s a dynamic between a man and a woman where for the reader, I think it’s very clear who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong and who should be liked and who should be somebody that is annoying you a little bit. Um, at least for all of them.
The father reader. It’d be curious to see if there are people that would read those characters totally differently. Um, but yeah, that whole trade with the doctors is funny. And I, I recognized myself in Kitty’s father, like, [00:43:00] and recognize other older fathers that I’ve seen. And I’ve seen this pattern so many times.
And then I thought I also fell into this pattern in some areas of life. And then I thought, well, it’s easy to blame the other side. So to speak versus to go these fathers, including myself, you know, did not know how to act in those bat. Let’s call them battles. And so just threw down their sword. I just, just like little children threw down that toys and went to the corner and went like, well, you play whatever you guys want.
I don’t care. Yeah. Right. Yeah. It’s like, it’s like, , the part that you also mentioned a first conversation where it’s like, he tried, he made a timid attempt to extinguish the fire, but it didn’t work.
And then he was kind of like, okay, whatever. Then he, then he goes angry at the fire and he’s like, well, if you’re doing you burn down fucking [00:44:00] fire, it’s your fault. Next time I’m going to come and want to talk to me. I’m not going to want to talk to you, right? Yeah. , yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s a childish response that is very masculine and manly where I could not get control over this with competence.
Right. I could not know how or how to this situation. For people to listen to me. And so I’ll just throw down all the toys and go to the corner and be like, well, then I don’t care anymore. That’s a very typical pattern. I see so many times with fathers, older fathers, when it comes to the raising of their children, right?
When you look at, at least in my family circles, a lot of parents, the fathers in their fifties and sixties, they’d be in this well, I’ve told you and the children this a million times, but nobody’s listening to me. And so I don’t care anymore. Right? I’ll just whatever your mother says, you guys, do, you gonna do [00:45:00] what you guys want to do anyway.
And you guys is like the mother and the children, you know, it’s such a childish, attitude. And it’s also very much a I give up. Right? I don’t, I I’ve cared and tried in the beginning. And because it didn’t instantly work the way I thought it should work. Which points we do. The other thing that I, but then I still, I still am able to later say after the thing that I told you, so warning you off, right?
Yeah. I told you so that’s that’s uh, yeah, yeah. I’ll keep that I’ll be in the right and all yous stay in the wrong. This is also one of the quotes that I read in the last conversation we had about the book was where,
On us husband, Alex, Alexandrovich where it says, what, if I’m paraphrasing all the competence and all the, you know, meticulousness with which he was in all the like business, like and statesmen a fair like approach that he was having so much success with in his career.
He could not understand how that same [00:46:00] approach was insane. Taking the same approach with his wife was so insane, right? Like this is such a typical, like the, the, the man or the husband in this case who had excelled in politics and in business, by being a certain rational way, was trying the exact same way and applying to all the problems of his marriage and was confused why that was totally insane, right.
Not working. Not producing the results he was expecting at all. yeah. And even Anna, um, when she’s like, she comes back and she’s in this like conflicted bubble of love, right. Where she’s now, like she already loves Wronski, but she doesn’t really admit it. And then she’s like going back and forth about it internally. And she’s like talking to us like, oh, this is just a silly thing that happens to women in social [00:47:00] circles.
But then also she feels like this is the only thing that matters. Right. And then her husband picks up at the, at the train station in the midst of a busy day, tries to show her some warmth, even though he has a meeting that he has to attend and, uh, you know, and then, and then he’s talking to her and then she’s.
Listening to the footsteps of Vronsky walking away, not listening to us. It’s so heartbreaking. And you can feel like, and she said the first thing, when she sees her husband, it’s like, why his ear so bad? And she sees all these flaws suddenly. Right? And then later she even sees the CMS. And even with the salmon, oh my God.
He sees her son eat nurses on is not as lovely as he remembered as she remembered him. Yeah. Yeah. That chip, this is tough because you can see like, in her heart, that’s really how she feels that she, she, but on the other, from both sides, you see her, oh my God, this was so painful. Yeah. You see [00:48:00] in the moment of falling in love, how.
That emotion is shading things. And like for all intensive purposes, she was like such a loving mother to her son. And it was where she attached all her love because she was not really in love with her husband. And then she falls in love with another man. And from moment it’s like, she’s turned into a little girl and she just can’t quite love and care for even her son anymore the same way.
Right. At least in those moments. And this is completely internal, right. Nobody knows or sees anything at that point yet. And this is something that I loved about the, um, can never, uh, I can never, um, see his name correctly, but the Chuck Paula . Yeah. Author of five minutes. Right. When I saw his interview with Joe Rogan, where he would describe these, [00:49:00] like finding these moments where we as humans have despicable thoughts or emotions that we would never speak out.
And it’s maybe just a moment and it leaves. Yeah. And like finding the humanity in those moments and like writing them out or telling these stories or shining a light on that, um, where he was talking about his, I think his mother who was sick for a long time and he loved really dealing at a very close relationship with, and then hearing the news that his mother had died and this mix of emotion where on the one hand he was in pain, but on the other, he was relieved and it was not a relief because he was thinking, oh, finally, finally, she’s happy.
It was a relief of finally, I don’t have to worry about this. I don’t have to go there and visit her and see her in this space. Like I. Freed of the burden of having to worry and care for my sick old mother. Right? Yeah. This was also in, in Kafka, right. In, in [00:50:00] metamorphoses, like so painful and stretched out.
Let’s say only. Yeah, well, but also so true. The family, you know, that was again, like in calf, in Kafka’s, uh, more forces. Again, nobody is necessarily a bad person in that too. Now I could see people reading that book and hating the family. I could see them hating the sister. Right. Um, some people could see hating him.
Right for being such a coward the entire time, basically, but at no time, is there clearly somebody at fault or wrong, but the beautiful thing is this. When you care, when you have to care for somebody over a period of time, it becomes a burden. And then inevitably, no matter how much you love that person, no matter how good of a person you are.
At some point, you’ll turn to some dark thoughts and feelings towards that person. Right. That is truly what it means to be human, [00:51:00] but many of these feelings and emotions, because we find them so despicable, we never would speak out. Yeah. And they don’t fit the social narrative. Right. And I think even more so than people realizing that they feel this way and not saying it, I think oftentimes these moments, these thoughts are thoughts that are.
Either so quickly suppressed or so strongly, you know, hidden from your own consciousness that people don’t even like a day later, wouldn’t even be able to say I had a bit of relief in that moment because that feeling felt weird and sold the thought, ran to something else, right? Like whatever opened the television, ate some chocolate, talked to somebody else.
Like we, we run away from these thoughts and feelings and then we ourselves are not pregnant with [00:52:00] them and go, I don’t know what to deliver this thought because people would judge me. I think there’s some of that, but more so this is the 20%, 80% of these more darker thoughts, more shadow sides of us. I think.
Courageous enough to look in the eye to know they existed or they’re present in us in the moment. And then when somebody would want to talk to us about how did it feel when you know your mother died or whatever, we would think we are speaking, honestly, when we told them about all our pain and all our suffering, and we would never dare to think about saying anything else, because in our memory, we’ve already decided to forget that we don’t know that anymore.
Uh, I think that’s the kind of, it’s still there, but it requires some digging to get to even the digging itself is such an unpleasant task that it’s like, why even you don’t do it unless you have. Some specific motivation. It’s at the level where we are with a shovel and we [00:53:00] look at the other person and we look over at that corner of the, the, the, you know, the field or whatever, where the skeleton is is, is buried.
And we don’t think, oh, I need to throw away the shovel. And he doesn’t need to know about the skeleton that I have. We’re not at that level. It’s a, w we talk to them about the weather. We look at the shovel once in a while, we’d glance at that spot, but we never think anything. We just glance at the shovel and at the spot.
And then we talk about things and then we go back to the house and we put away the shovel. And the next day in our memory, there was never a shovel or a spot that we were looking at. It’s just still just a slight layer. Now, all it takes is the right level of courage to wake up and see the shovel in our hands and go, why do I have a shovel?
Oh, shit. What’s that spot over there? Fuck. I think there’s something. Do I have the courage to uncover this in front of my friend and myself, but that like bringing that [00:54:00] up from your lower levels of consciousness or awareness, that thing requires a level of courage that most of the time we don’t have. So I’ll cowardice our keeping our thoughts basically, or keeping those realizations, just a layer, a level below our eyesight, just like just pushing them down just below our eyesight.
So we look and we’re like, I have a weird feeling, but I don’t see it. It’s like sometimes I’ve had this experience many times where, um, you know, my mother would have, you know, new shoes, new earrings or something, and my eyes would go there. A number of times would look at this thing that’s new, but my mind wouldn’t think are these new earrings?
And then. A couple of hours later, my mother would be like, ah, just part new Arrington and go, damn it. I knew I was keep looking at your earrings. So I noticed it, but it was not yet at a [00:55:00] level where it penetrated my thoughts to go, are these new earrings? Should I ask you to say something? It’s that sort of a thing where it’s there?
You see it, but not yet. It is not a fully formed, aware thought, Hey, there’s a skeleton. There, there’s a deep, there’s a conflicting thought and emotion that I don’t want to feel. And so we were just like, look at people, look at our shovels and we just don’t connect the dots. Um, but it’s beautiful in any time we’re able to notice and recognize our shadow side and then use the shovel to bring it up from the ground.
And deal with it and have empathy and humanity towards it. Not judge ourselves, not use it as punishment, not use it for guilt or shame, but just look at it and understand, Hey, this is part of the experience of being a human. Maybe I do feel relief that this person that I love so much died, right. And maybe that doesn’t make me a terrible person.
Maybe [00:56:00] that doesn’t take away any of the love I have and hat for this person. Maybe it’s just complicated to be a human and maybe it’s okay to feel weird thoughts. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna, like, I can feel that moment of relief and understand that there’s a part of me that is relieved and have tremendous sadness and live that fully.
And it’s not a contradiction, right? The existence of one thing does not negate the other. And I think oftentimes we do believe that we’ve have a fear in ourselves that if one exists the other isn’t. Oh, it overshadows the other. I cannot have a bad thought about this situation and still be a good person.
I cannot be relieved. This person died and still feel grief for their death. Right. That seems like it’s contradicting itself. It’s not, it’s either one or the other. So if I feel relieved, I am not [00:57:00] grieving, which means I didn’t love them, which means I’m a terrible blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever the, the chair pain is that our thoughts fall into.
Um, but the truth is we’re almost always. In some inner conflict in some conflicting thoughts. Uh, if not in our thoughts then in our emotions, if not in our emotions, then in some of our actions and mostly in all three and seeing all of it and having empathy for all of it and then negotiating, dealing with it, right, coming back to this idea of that, the self is a village of characters, right?
Where you’re in a room of different conflicting things. And you talk to all of them and you understand them, and then you lead them down a path versus being a shameful part of your village, or for part of people in the village and blaming them and fighting with them and creating conflict and all that.
Um, that’s a, that’s a tall order. That’s a big task that it’s a tricky place to get to or to travel to, but so rewarding. Um, and the greatest [00:58:00] artist that we’ve known in one way or another are people that have been able to go to the brightest and darkest spot of the human soul. And to express that more boldly and more beautifully, then happy go lucky.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s not, that’s not it’s not all of life, but I think that are one of the beautiful things of art is that it can talk about these things and infuse them with beauty, even the darkest side of somebody. If you describe it, artfully enough, honesty enough, creatively enough. You’ve now made something really despicable part of it because it’s light.
It is beautiful. And it’s something that when you take art away from us to express those parts of life and living, it’s very hard to infuse these situations with beauty. If I just describe [00:59:00] you as a person and he did the selfish thing and here’s his actions, if I just rashly go through what he did.
There’s, there’s no beauty in there. There’s very loose humanity in there. Um, but if I tell the story the way that great artists are able to tell it doesn’t matter if it’s music, if it’s, writing in a poem or a painting, great artists able to infuse all of life, even though most shadowy, the darkest spots infuse them with beauty because they are part of life and all of life is beautiful.
And so there’s something more true in art in that way than we’re able to find in, you know, in, in, I don’t know what to call, like non-art I dunno science. It’s not that. Yeah. It’s like in fiction there’s much truth in fiction. Yeah. Like you could write a philosophy books in psychology, right? Um, and find a lot less truth in them that reading a great novel, illegal breakdown off a case.
[01:00:00] Yeah. You have all the data and the, you know, at seven 15, the pound went to, you have all that looking at life at source code level. Right now you might have a great time playing world of Warcraft as a video game. But if I sit you in front of the pure source source code, even if that’s really what happens and how this game works, there’s no joy or beauty in that.
Right. You’ll sit there and you don’t understand anything. Or even if you did know programming, it might be interesting, but there’s no joy and beauty. Versus when you get to play the game in many times in philosophy, in science, in, in psychology and sociology. When we in, in history, when we described just the mere fact and the things, and this happened, this, and this is how people are in this, you know, the brain functions this way.
And that’s why we sometimes feel these things when we do these things and that, and that, and that it’s [01:01:00] the source quote, right. We’re trying to get to the source code of life to understand exactly what line of code is producing, what kind of response and result and how do we explain everything. But the art turns it, or reflect back real life in to us back in a way that doesn’t lose its beauty and its mystery and it’s magic.
Um, I it’s so hard. Like I still read nonfiction books. Um, But the difference is so even nonfiction books that are really well, like when they’re really well-written and there’s some interesting stories to them, it’s still enjoy them, but is no comparison the way like I’ve, I’ve read hundreds of books about psychology, right?
Hundreds and hundreds of books. I only have a PhD in psychology in terms of just number of books I read about fucking the mind and all the different, like, I’ve read a lot about this topic. This topic has interested me for 20 years now. [01:02:00] None of them, these books, I’ve had a lot of aha moments of, wow, this is amazing, but nothing compared to like reading a book, Nina where this such on every page, such richness of life and human struggle and motivation, and that there’s so much reflection that I have to go through.
And so much, so many insightful moments and so much pleasure and joy, like to me, these great books have. They’re telling us, or they’re showing us the truth of who we are and why we are the way we are in so much more beautiful ways and true ways in some ways. So I’m getting so much out of, yeah. I find like these nonfiction books, they often give you like a framework that gives you a simplified way of thinking about something or looking at something, right.
That can be very useful, but then you read something like this and it’s like, well, this was nice, but it’s not [01:03:00] that simple. Yeah. Yeah. All right. I got to run.