On Cruelty

by janeeatonhamilton

“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:

Make art.