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Some Perspective From a Dark Place - Solzhenitsyn
Old 01-18-2021, 03:07 PM   #1
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Some Perspective From a Dark Place - Solzhenitsyn

Too many younger folk have never heard of this book (my adult daughter among them):
“… What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I'll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusionary -property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night.

Live with a steady superiority over life -don't be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn for happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn't last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing.

It is enough if you don't freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don't claw at your insides. If your back isn't broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes can see, if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart -and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it may be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted on their memory.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
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Old 01-18-2021, 03:20 PM   #2
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I can very much relate to the first paragraph. The trapping of things and possessions can really handcuff you and can sometimes feel like a burden especially when you want to live life freely but first must offload them.
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Old 01-18-2021, 04:46 PM   #3
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I can very much relate to the first paragraph. The trapping of things and possessions can really handcuff you and can sometimes feel like a burden especially when you want to live life freely but first must offload them.
And I was touched by the last paragraph - especially when I realized what the author had suffered - and why.
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Old 01-18-2021, 04:54 PM   #4
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An author very much worth reading and rereading. Brilliant man who definitely had his head straight.
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Old 01-18-2021, 05:03 PM   #5
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Kafka wrote about it, Solzhenitsyn experienced it...in spades.
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Old 01-18-2021, 05:06 PM   #6
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If we substitute "death" for "being arrested and taken to the Gulag," Jesus said very similar things. I often think of his advice not to store up earthly treasures, which "moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break in and steal."

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Originally Posted by Tekward View Post
Too many younger folk have never heard of this book (my adult daughter among them):
“… What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I'll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusionary -property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night.

Live with a steady superiority over life -don't be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn for happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn't last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing.

It is enough if you don't freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don't claw at your insides. If your back isn't broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes can see, if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart -and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it may be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted on their memory.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
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Old 01-19-2021, 02:12 AM   #7
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If we substitute "death" for "being arrested and taken to the Gulag," Jesus said very similar things. I often think of his advice not to store up earthly treasures, which "moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break in and steal."
Yes, the older I get the more this rings true. "Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" YMMV
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Old 01-19-2021, 02:44 AM   #8
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Only God knows what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn went through in his years in the Gulag. And he wasn't alone--millions of innocent people experienced the needless torture.

I read that book many years ago, and was impressed with his brilliance.
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Old 01-19-2021, 04:59 AM   #9
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Accumulating wealth is a major theme of this site.

Thank you for the needed perspective.
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Old 01-19-2021, 05:16 AM   #10
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Accumulating wealth is a major theme of this site.
Well, in all fairness this site is about financial independence and retiring early and some amount of wealth accumulation is needed to to that. I believe that is fine until it gets to the point of being obsessive about it or simply accumulating wealth for its own sake. Overall, I agree with Solzhenitsyn's perspective.
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Old 01-19-2021, 06:04 AM   #11
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Well, in all fairness this site is about financial independence and retiring early and some amount of wealth accumulation is needed to to that. I believe that is fine until it gets to the point of being obsessive about it or simply accumulating wealth for its own sake. Overall, I agree with Solzhenitsyn's perspective.
^This

For me, FI and accumulating wealth is about safety and security (and comfort I'll admit). The trials of life have made me appreciate time, friends/relationships and experiences over any trappings of wealth.
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Old 01-19-2021, 06:24 AM   #12
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Read The Gulag Archipelago in high school. Very impressive work was awarded a Nobel.

Can't say I agree with his perspective of later years, though.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn
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Old 01-19-2021, 08:15 AM   #13
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^This

For me, FI and accumulating wealth is about safety and security (and comfort I'll admit). The trials of life have made me appreciate time, friends/relationships and experiences over any trappings of wealth.

Agree. I will also add that I have accumulated so that I do not become a burden to my family and friends.
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Old 01-19-2021, 09:00 AM   #14
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Read The Gulag Archipelago in high school. Very impressive work was awarded a Nobel.

Can't say I agree with his perspective of later years, though.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn
I know many old men who fall prey to misty nostalgia in their dotage and view the past with rose coloured glasses.

Considering what he went through I can cut him a certain amount of slack in succumbing to this very human failing. In comparison to the Bolshies and Uncle Joe I am sure the Tsar seemed agreeable in retrospect.
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Old 01-19-2021, 05:11 PM   #15
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Agree. I will also add that I have accumulated so that I do not become a burden to my family and friends.
And I would add, not being a burden to our strained governmental safety net system. YMMV
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Old 01-19-2021, 09:54 PM   #16
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I remember reading Solzhenitsyn as a young Eason, so shocked by the Siberian camps and repression. So dire.

Lots of authors I read back then were dire. How did I make it through all that?
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Old 01-20-2021, 06:43 AM   #17
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Read The Gulag Archipelago in high school. Very impressive work was awarded a Nobel.

Can't say I agree with his perspective of later years, though.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn
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Originally Posted by Koogie View Post
I know many old men who fall prey to misty nostalgia in their dotage and view the past with rose coloured glasses.

Considering what he went through I can cut him a certain amount of slack in succumbing to this very human failing. In comparison to the Bolshies and Uncle Joe I am sure the Tsar seemed agreeable in retrospect.
From what I've read about AS since this thread started, he was a fervent Russian nationalist from the beginning (born 1918) and raised in Russian Orthodoxy. Anti-semitism was a component of those times, same as racism in the U.S. I was surprised at first to read accusations of anti-semitism, but it makes sense when viewed historically.
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Old 01-20-2021, 08:05 AM   #18
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I remember reading Solzhenitsyn as a young Eason person, so shocked by the Siberian camps and repression. So dire.

Lots of authors I read back then were dire. How did I make it through all that?
Should be young person.
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Old 01-20-2021, 09:30 AM   #19
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I’ve read other Russian authors, but not Solzhenitsyn. I’m going to have to rectify that.

However, reading the quote, I’m reminded of Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
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Old 01-20-2021, 10:03 AM   #20
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Actually this sounds very Buddhist.
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