Last month, I sent an invitation to my ex-wife to give me the interview for this blog. I asked her questions about our marriage, her views about life after divorce, is she happy or not, does divorce has fulfilled her expectations of life etc.. etc.. but she declined to comment on any of those questions.

In a short time before publishing an interview post I was squeezed and I had to replace my ex-wife with someone else, someone equally interesting like my ex. And I found it....

Ladies and Gentlemen, 
tonight the special guest of blog is Fyodor Dostoevsky, the one of the best writers of the world.

In fact, he is my favorite story teller. I can read his books over and over again, actually I never finish them to the end, but always I discover something new, something that is went unnoticed on the previous reading. Just like me he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and just like me, he was an engineer and an easy spender.

He was born 1821 and grew up in Moscow. His father was a successful doctor. At the age of 12 he was sent far from his home to St Petersburg where he got a good education. He felt out of place among his more aristocratic classmates. After graduating Dostoevsky worked as an engineer for a while. 

Then he started gambling and losing money. In his late twenties he became friends with writers and intellectuals. He wasn’t so deeply involved in politics but when the government decided to crack down political opposition, Dostoevsky was rounded up too and sentenced to be shot by a firing squad. Ooouchh. That was really happened, but at the last moment – when the soldiers were ready to fire – the message arrived. He was sent to gulags in Siberia for four years of forced labor.

After his return from Siberia he become a writer. His major books are Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons, Brothers Karamazov.

Mr. Dostoevsky, why did you wrote those dark, violent, tragic, long and very complicated books?

I wrote them to tell the world an important lesson of the life - the value of suffering. I also told them that we don’t know ourselves and that even nice people can do terrible things. We must learn to appreciate the beauty and not be fearful of life. You know Zee, the idealism has its limits.

My first big book – Notes from Underground – is the rant against life and the world. I wrote it from the eyes of a retired civil servant. That man was deeply unreasonable, inconsistent and furious with everyone (including himself); He goes to a reunion of some former colleagues and tells them all how much he always hated them; he wants to destroy everyone’s illusions and make them as unhappy as he is. 

In that novel I was insisting on a very strange fact about human behavior: people want happiness but they have a special talent for making themselves miserable. I said it plainly - Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering: that is a fact.

Do you think that we as a society are progressing and improving?

In Notes from Underground I am taking stand that the progress and improvement – which were highly popular in my age as they continue to be in yours. I'm attacking our habit of telling ourselves that if only this or that thing were different, we could leave suffering behind. 

If we got that great job, changed the government, could afford that great house, invented a machine to fly us faster around the world, could get together with (or get divorced from) a particular person, then all would go well. 

I'm telling you and to your readers, it is a delusion. Suffering will always pursue us. Schemes for improving the world always contain a flaw: they won’t eliminate suffering, they will only change the things that cause us pain. 

Life can only ever be a process of changing the focus of pain, never removing pain itself. There will always be something to agonies us. Stop people starving and you’ll soon find there’s a new range of problems: people will start to suffer from boredom, greed or intense melancholy that they haven’t been invited to the right party.

So there is no progress all this centuries?

All ideologies of technical or social progress aspire to the elimination of suffering. They won’t succeed because as soon as they solve one problem, they’ll direct our nature to become unhappy in new ways. I'm fascinated by the secret ways we actually don’t want what we theoretically seek.

The most if not all people have the pleasure they got from feelings of superiority; you see, people get thrill from hearing about violent crimes on the news – in which case they’d actually live quite okay in their truly peaceful world. 

My books are dark, awkwardly insightful, in opposition to modern liberalism.

Let me say this too, it doesn’t really mean that social improvement is meaningless. I only remind you that people will always carry their complex and difficult selves with them and that progress will never be as clear and clean as anyone might like to imagine.

In your final book the Brothers Karamazov, The Grand Inquisitor stands as illuminated figure. Why did you choose him?

The Grand Inquisitor is a story within a story in that book. I was afraid to tell you the truth so I came up with the Inquisitor to tell you instead of me. The greatest event people are looking forward to (by Christian theology), the second coming of Christ, has in fact already happened. 

Jesus did come back, several hundred years ago, somewhere in Spain, during the darkest period of inquisition. You see, the church is the organization established, in theory at least, entirely in devotion to Jesus Christ. So when Christ was back to fulfill his teachings of forgiveness and universal love, something odd happened. The most powerful religious leader – the Grand Inquisitor – has him arrested and jailed.

I was there when that happened. In the middle of the night, the Grand Inquisitor visited Christ in his cell and explained that he cannot allow him to do his work on Earth, because he is a threat to the stability of society.

Christ, The Grand Inquisitor said, is too ambitious – too pure, too perfect. People can’t live up to the impossible goals he sets to them. The fact is, people haven’t been able to live according to his teachings and Jesus should admit he failed and that his ideas of redemption were essentially misguided.

What is your opinion of That Grand Inquisitor?

Hmm, I liked him. The Grand Inquisitor is not really a monster. I portray him as quite an admirable figure in the story. He is a guide to my crucial idea, human beings cannot live in purity, cannot ever be truly good, cannot live up to Christ’s message – and that this is something we should take ourselves with grace rather than fury or self-hatred.

People have to accept a great deal of unreasonableness, folly, greed, selfishness and shortsightedness as true facts of the human behavior and live their life accordingly. 

Live your own life without sorting everyone out, you won’t stop being a bit mad and awkward. And you shouldn’t torment yourself with the dream that you could – if only you tried hard enough – become the ideal being that philosophies like Christianity like to tells us too readily.