“No animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” Fyodor Dostoyevski
I’ve been ruminating the last couple of weeks, and, really, for the last three years, on Dostoyevski’s notion of the artful use of cruelty (as I watch the exuberant machinations of the recently tin-hearted). I’ve been striving to understand how big hearts just suddenly pucker up like lemon-mouths, turn sour and vengeful and tiny. Watching a beloved tumble into the muck and then just stick there like a bug in amber, like a butterfly pinned to rubber, like a pithed frog? It’s horrible. One longs to call them back, back, back towards love and openness, towards the gentle embrace, towards trust and laughter, towards a world replete with beauty. One longs for siren fingers. Crabbed callousness must hurt like a pinch, like a slap, like a punch, must it not?
“Deliberate cruelty is unforgivable,” said Tennessee Williams through Blanche Dubois in a Streetcar Named Desire.
But I keep my mantra firmly to mind: No matter what the question is, the answer is almost always art.
Make. Make. Make. Make. When you can’t help someone, this is what you do: