Darkness at Noon
In this short book (211 pages)by Arthur Koestler, translated by Daphne Hardy, the psychology of a jailed revolutionary is explored. The prisoner Rubashov, who has a toothache, is arrested on charges of acting as an agent for the counter revolution. In jail Comrade Ivanov, from the old school interrogates him first, and then he passed on to the new guard Gletkin who is not so kind. He communicates in code, day dreams forward and the only time he feels scared is when he runs out of cigarettes…he does more of course but you should read the book...if you think the bitching at General Assemblies is bad...you must read this book
“But who will be proved right? It will only be known later. Meanwhile he is bound to act on credit and to sell his soul to the devil, in the hope of history’s absolution.” from Rubashov’s diary page 81
“ After a life of sin, he has turned to God--to a God with a double chin of industrial liberalism and the charity of Salvation Army soups.” Ivanov on page 122 debating the merits of an imagined conscience…he continues, Ivanov that is...
“Satan on the other hand, is thin ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic. He reads Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel; he is cold and unmerciful to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness.” page 122
The poets ..."destroyed themselves with this poison. Up to forty, fifty years old they were revolutionaries—then they became consumed by pity and the world announced them holy.” page 124
And finally he concludes his argument, kind of...
“My point is this one may not regard the world as a sort of metaphysical brothel for emotions…sympathy, conscience, disgust, despair, repentance and atonement are for us repellent debauchery. To sit down and let oneself be hypnotized by one’s own navel…that is the easy solution…
The greatest temptation for the likes of us; is to renounce violence, to repent, to make peace with oneself…the temptation of God is always more dangerous for mankind than the calls of Satan…when the accursed inner voice speaks to you, hold your hands over your ears…to sell oneself for thirty pieces of silver is an honest transaction, but to sell oneself to one’s own conscience is to abandon mankind. ..history is a priori; it has no conscience…
you know the stakes in this game.” page 124-125
The last paragraph in the book is:
"A second smashing blow hit him on the ear. Then all became quiet. There was the sea again with it sounds. A wave slowly lifted him up. It came from afar and traveled sedately on, a shrug of eternity"
...or like a dust in the wind. Many have called this book a master piece and you should read it again.