Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just do it..and go to sleep


In 1881 a brilliant Russian writer penned a story that to me is absolutely brilliant. It puts you in the mindset of someone commiting a horrific act...in a way that makes you understand it and almost condone it.
You must read the story before continuing and commenting (yes thats an order..lol)

Sleepy. By Anton Chekhov
When you're done..continue below.












This is such a phenomenal story. It really gets to the heart of absolute and relative morality.

The logic is so simple
It’s breathtaking.
Kill the baby and all her troubles vanish.

To me this gets to the root of why and how we sin.
A sin seems like a huge wall an insurmountable barrier made up of a mixture of God, taboo, fear of retribution and other factors.
But once the temptations start mounting the whispers in your head increase and push you closer and closer to that wall until you see it’s really a mirage.

There’s no wall there.

You can do the deed and vanquish the whispering voices.
Which is why it’s best to keep your distance because once you realize that there’s no wall there, it becomes easier and easier to cross over.

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28 Comments:

Blogger FrumGirl said...

What a horrible story! What a stupid and simple maid... does she not realize the consequences would be far worse later after she gets her sleep? And are you comparing G-d to such cruel masters?

OK I thought about it, I suppose a sinner does get so carried away in his obsession much like hers with sleep that they can see nothing else. But I dont like the analogy so much because humans cannot function at all without sleep. If she was driven to murder the baby it was because of the cruelty of the masters to her. Human beings do not need sin to survive.

July 18, 2006 2:17 PM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

CHEKHOV WAS A BRILLIANT PLAYWRIGHT i liked the steppe

July 18, 2006 2:57 PM  
Blogger anonym00kie said...

frumgirl i dont think every aspect of the story has to be comparable for the point to be valid. of course G-d not like those cruel masters, but soemtimes we find ourselves in a situation where the pressure is sooooo strong that we cant think clearly anymore and the only wat to deal is to just let go.. (which is why we have to avoid being in those situation in the first place!)

btw david the story was -wow-, really thought provoking!

July 18, 2006 3:15 PM  
Blogger Lakewood Venter said...

Pretty chilling!

July 18, 2006 3:25 PM  
Blogger workingema said...

I agree with Frumgirl- what a horrid story, but what a profound lesson you bring from it, David.

It's true. If you just tell yourself that it's quite easy and there's nothing stopping you, or there's nothing bad about it, then... there really is nothing stopping you from sinning.

But, perhaps, it would have been wiser to get rid of the ones who made her do the sin....Without pressure she wouldn't have killed.. Aha!

What's that possuk- stay away from bad neighbors or something? in Pirkei Avos....

A good lesson to learn...

July 18, 2006 4:33 PM  
Blogger FrumGirl said...

Mookie, I'm just a concrete kind of girl, lol.

July 18, 2006 5:14 PM  
Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

It was deffinately the pressure that made her go over the edge. But also she wasn't thinking about the long term consequences because she was blinded by wanting sleep.

That can be compared to other situations that are less extreme in which a person wants something and the peticular action doesn't look so bad and so they do it without thinking about long term consequences.

July 18, 2006 6:13 PM  
Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Nice lesson! Thanks

July 18, 2006 9:29 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

FG...
she mightve been simple...but in her mind there was a happy place..and there was one thing standing between her and that bliss...and that was all that mattered.
Although..u might be right...we wouldnt physically fall apart without the sin but sometimes out focus narrows and we focus on that bliss...narrowly.

limey...
I agree..I love all his stories and plays.

anonym00kie...
very well said..and Thanks.

lv...
indeed

workingema....
welcome.
yes I suppose that wouldve been better...but her masters...were a presence in her life..in the life of all serfs back then...that they were larger then life and an integral part of her...

lvnsm..
Exactly..

sworker...
Thanks

July 18, 2006 9:48 PM  
Blogger Mata Hari said...

David - so prolific! where do you find the time?

July 18, 2006 11:30 PM  
Blogger Shopaholic said...

Creepy story, very chilling. reminds me a bit of some short stories by Poe.

Beware of the little voices...

July 19, 2006 12:22 AM  
Blogger exsemgirl said...

Awful story but powerful lesson.

Such is the power of the mind. And we have the choice to control it or let it control us.

July 19, 2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger anonym00kie said...

you know, i keep thinking about this story..
and i cant shake how much i connect to how she feels..
being that its such a creepy story.. should i be worried? :)

but honestly..that feeling of fighting fighting fighting and then.. just surrendering - out of exhaustion.. regardless of the consequences.

i dont know, it really speaks to me.

July 19, 2006 9:12 AM  
Blogger Shopaholic said...

Yeah! I too keep thinking about this story! I read it last night and i'm still v disturbed by it....

btw, you told me to read his book, are all his short sotries like this?

July 19, 2006 10:15 AM  
Blogger kasamba said...

I think that all mothers reading this narrative will instinctively go check on their offspring!

I didn't find her a sympathetic protaganist at all, and I think your point so lucid; in that the line is so thin that it doesn't take much to be crossed over. there was no lightening or anything to attest to the evil she had comitted. In essence, she had dehumanised the baby thinking of it as just an 'obstacle' impeding her fulfillment.

July 19, 2006 12:45 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

mata hari...
not sure if thats a good thing..
hmm'

shop...
ahh those little voices...
yes..it is a bit morbid..most of his stories are not morbid though..He was a true realist..highlighting the plight of the commonfolk during difficult years in Russia..

exsem...
We do have control..but I think everyone has a breaking point where one can truly lose that control

anon....
Yes you should be..and stay away from babies please
:-)
but you're so right..in the way u capture that underlying emotional exhaustion..

Kasamba...
I dont know..the first time Iread the story...I was breathlessy waiting for her to fall asleep..and almost felt relief when she did it..I guess a good writer can do that..
Thats exactly what happened to her...she entered another existance..

July 19, 2006 1:58 PM  
Blogger workingema said...

Anon said "fighting, fighting.. surrendering out of exhaustion.. regardless of the consenquences"
Reminds me of dealing with kids, when you're tired or not in the mood.. you just give in after a while...even if you know they'll get cavities, or they'll be too hyper to go to sleep, or the house will become a mess..... you just give in....:0

"She entered another existence"- I agree....She didn't even know that she was doing something evil. It wasn't evil, it was just something to do to help her get what she needed- and she had to see the baby as an object to do that.

July 19, 2006 4:42 PM  
Blogger Bonnie B said...

I read this story in college and it still makes my heart race.

She may have shut the voices up for a while but the new voice of guilt will outshout all others.

July 19, 2006 4:55 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

workingema...
Yes...I find that to be true with parenting too...Its so easy to just give up...
and ur right...it wasnt evil in her mind..she was in another world...

bonnie....
good point...At that moment it really wasnt a factor...
I think also with Chekhovs closing
"and in a minute is sleeping as sound as the dead. "
He mightve also been alluding to her soul...

July 19, 2006 8:42 PM  
Blogger Bonnie B said...

That was my point exactly-- just better phrased.

July 19, 2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger Open Up! said...

very dark and disturbung....gives me shivers

July 19, 2006 9:13 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

open...
dont worry..its not a true story..

July 20, 2006 12:04 PM  
Blogger Genendy said...

Kasamba - I'm surprised you didn't feel sympathy for her - I ached for her. I remember all too well (as I'm sure you must too) what it's like to have a newborn and be so tired it hurts! But the most painful part of it wasn't the lack of sleep, it was the lack of a promise of sleep. I had no guarantee that at a given time I'll be able to take an undisturbed nap. And that's what made it so unbearable. This girl, besides for having already gone without sleep for an insane amount of time, had only a sleepless eternity to look forward to.

In the very near future, we'll be reading 'nashim rachmoniyos bishlu yaldeihen'. There is no judgement passed on them for an even more heinous act! And don't human beings need sleep in order to function - just like they need food?

July 20, 2006 4:18 PM  
Blogger Genendy said...

David - Great lesson you took from the story. In a slightly different vein, it made me think of something that really fascinates me - the many invisible barriers we have in our lives. It amazes me how many unspoken rules we play by (often needlessly) without even realizing it! For example - the intimidating people in our lives - we shrink from them, we won't dare say certain things to them, but if we would just stop a minute and think, 'one second, what EXACTLY am I afraid of?' then we would realize that the answer is 'absolutely nothing. there's nothing this person can do to me'. But we're just so used to being afraid of them, we don't even entertain the possibility that we really don't have to be!

July 20, 2006 4:54 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Great comments Genendy...
Sleep s indeed essential to function...and her lack of sleep was infringing on her ability to function as a rational human being.
And your thoughts on the way we're intimidated by factors that are not really there...are also right on the mark.

July 20, 2006 10:24 PM  
Blogger Okee said...

It's so, so very sad... She was driven mad, I think, and so therefore, in America, she wouldn't be deemed fit to stand trial and wouldn't go to jail...but her masters would be charged with mistreatment of an employee and be sentenced to 5-10 years in the big house. Something to think about...

Is it a sort of mashal to morality decisions? Driven to sin because you think it'll solve a humongous problem in your life? I think that is not the common sin. Usually we sin because it'll make something a bit easier, or feel better -not as a solution. Those type of sins are the most difficult of all, I think. Those are the type we should daven never to be tested with.
(though I wonder why we always see the "foe" as being an external force, and not ourselves. If she commited suicide -as crazy a choice as murdering a baby- her problem would have been as much "solved".)

July 20, 2006 11:06 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

okee....
Hmm I dont know if sleep deprivation will sway a jury...

of course the analogy is not 100%..I was just focusing on one aspect of sin...Just the fact that our mind shifts..and the desire grows..for whatever reason..the barrier strats shrinking..until it is no longer there...

July 21, 2006 9:55 AM  
Blogger Genendy said...

Thanks David. :)

July 21, 2006 11:54 AM  

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