Recognising yourself in something horrific…
Remembered this very funny passage from Besy after a heated POF seminar; it should be instantly recognisable to anyone (like me) who's let the strength of their convictions draw them out a little too far...
A secret meeting of revolutionaries is being held; the leaders, Stavrogin and Verkhovensky, have just entered.
'“Stavrogin, will you have tea?”
“Please,” he answered.
“Tea for Stavrogin,” she commanded her sister at the samovar. “And you, will you?” (This was to Verhovensky.)
“Of course. What a question to ask a visitor! And give me cream too; you always give one such filthy stuff by way of tea, and with a name-day party in the house!”
“What, you believe in keeping name-days too!” the girl-student laughed suddenly. “We were just talking of that.”
“That's stale,” muttered the schoolboy at the other end of the table.
“What's stale? To disregard conventions, even the most innocent is not stale; on the contrary, to the disgrace of every one, so far it's a novelty,” the girl-student answered instantly, darting forward on her chair. “Besides, there are no innocent conventions,” she added with intensity.
“I only meant,” cried the schoolboy with tremendous excitement, “to say that though conventions of course are stale and must be eradicated, yet about name-days everybody knows that they are stupid and very stale to waste precious time upon, which has been wasted already all over the world, so that it would be as well to sharpen one's wits on something more useful. . . .”
“You drag it out so, one can't understand what you mean,” shouted the girl.
“I think that every one has a right to express an opinion as well as every one else, and if I want to express my opinion like anybody else ...”
“No one is attacking your right to give an opinion,” the lady of the house herself cut in sharply. “You were only asked not to ramble because no one can make out what you mean.”
“But allow me to remark that you are not treating me with respect. If I couldn't fully express my thought, it's not from want of thought but from too much thought,” the schoolboy muttered, almost in despair, losing his thread completely.
“If you don't know how to talk, you'd better keep quiet,” blurted out the girl.
The schoolboy positively jumped from his chair.
“I only wanted to state,” he shouted, crimson with shame and afraid to look about him, “that you only wanted to show off your cleverness because Mr. Stavrogin came in—so there!”
“That's a nasty and immoral idea and shows the worthless-ness of your development. I beg you not to address me again,” the girl rattled off.'
If I seem quiet in seminars this week, then it's because I'm trying to avoid turning into a member of this generation of "too much thought"...