Demons: Nechayev, Lelouch, and me

Fyodor Dostoevsky, the great Russian author, has four major novels that are recognized (even until today) to be among the greatest in literature. To date, the most popular novel among these four is Crime and Punishment. One of his other novels, although lesser-known than C&P, is Demons.

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Demons was partially inspired by Sergei Nechayev, one of the leaders of the Nihilist movement, who was so single-minded in his goal of revolution that he disregarded morality: he did not mind political violence and murder. He was so single-minded that he alienated even his friends and family.

I cannot ascertain whether Lelouch was partially inspired by Nechayev, but they have striking similarities in their actions and personalities. Lelouch, among other things, is also charismatic and highly intelligent. Both are also ruthless and inexorably single-minded in their pursuance of their goals. While R2 has not ended yet, we all know what happened to Nechayev.

I’m not ruthless to the extent exemplified by Nechayev; I’m also not as tactical or as cold as Lelouch. But just as any human, I also have principles, muddled and sometimes hypocritical (as they are), that I fight for even if what I have been doing has been wrong.

I have no need reiterating my regard for books. I cannot deny having enjoyed the inventory sale of our large bookstore. I was happy, not because I was able to procure books I have wanted for the longest time, but because that local bookstore chain of ours suffered an immense loss of profit. Call it a type of schadenfreude.

I am not a violent man (most of the time), or a man who wishes only evil for others. But that local bookstore chain of ours is a monopoly. They have been jacking up prices extortionately with regard to their stock. Had they begun with fair and just prices there would not have been need for an inventory sale.

So, no, my aim has not been anarchy or a total destruction and subsequent rebirth of the world. It is much simpler (perhaps to others, infinitely more banal): I want fairer prices. Since I’m not a person who loves dwelling in the realm of potentialities, I try to put into action some of my ideas: I have talked to my professor as regards this only to be disappointed by the impossibility of action. It’s difficult to penetrate the heads of the monopoly because they possess both the money and the monopoly, despite my efforts. Why would they abrogate their reign? My inability to do something about this predicament has frustrated me. I could not do anything about it, much as I have tried.

This led me to do something devious which I do not regret. I did it yesterday.

It was an action akin to raising a middle finger despite being invisible in a crowd of perpetual flux. What was more important is the fact that I had been able to perform the action, not whether it was seen or not. Despite it not really changing anything, it reduced my frustrations.

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What did I do?

There is a sale in our local bookstore chain. I got a book that wasn’t on sale and superimposed a sale sticker on it obtained from a book legitimately on sale. I paid for that book as a sale book. While before I had been just exchanging sale tags (among books on sale), I had now created a sale out of nowhere. It was a grave deed, and I’m desperately trying to stop myself from doing it again. There is a thrill in deviance: there is a thrill, an exhilaration in fear. I did it not because I could not afford the book: I did it because I wanted to dupe the bookstore of one sale: it was my soundless, voiceless ‘fuck you’ after all that I’ve done. To some extent I have been influenced by people like Nechayev: I had a choice between acting and omission, and I acted.

I know moral people would tell me that it’s wrong. I myself recognize that I was mistaken. But there are some things that one feels that one must do despite it truly being wrong. The world cannot follow Kant‘s categorical imperative: there are some immoral things people feel compelled at times to do. If someone close to them is threatened, most people will unhesitatingly lie to protect the ones they love. If their ideals are repudiated or offended, some people will go to the extent of being willing to murder.

That was a rare moment of internal strength that I found inside me. I don’t propose that you do what I have had done, and I don’t offer any excuses. All I can say is that as I have grown older, the world has become more and more gray to me. Absolutists like Kant cannot live in this present world: if I had not done that ‘immoral’ act, I would have branded myself a coward. I will never do the act again (and I’m really hoping that I won’t, despite the excitement), but at least I have not proven myself a coward at that instance.

It’s weird, isn’t it? But I guess this is one of the things that attracts us to Lelouch and to people like Nechayev. They have the guts most of us don’t even have all our lives.

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21 Responses to “Demons: Nechayev, Lelouch, and me”

  1. meganeshounen Says:

    What did they say about “the pleasure of forbidden fruit, once tasted”? 😀

    Anyway, if Lelouch was really a merciless and cold-hearted strategist, he would have taken full control of the Order of Black Knights, taken down Britannia and declared Japan a free country twice over (and still have enough time to bang CC, Kallen and Kaguya). But of course, he still has that tiny bit of humanity left in him, which is his weakness as a leader, and his sole mark of morality. Probably induced by his original goal of making a world for his little sister.

    Now… if you remove the said “little sister” out of the equation, then…. see Code Geass R2 Episode 19 onwards.

  2. Michael Says:

    Right, I need to BAWW more.

    I wish R2 was just a romance series instead, where Shirley is the fawning lady who Lulu doesn’t fall in love with (somewhat like Satsuki), CC is like Aya Toujou, who cares for ‘Junpei’ but doesn’t profess her feelings because of her insecurities, and Kallen as Nishino, since she’s feisty and has short hair, too.

    I ARGUE THAT GEASS 100% WILL BE A BETTER ANIME SERIES!

    Anyway, I just lost the game. You just made me rage, meganeshounen. 🙁

  3. meganeshounen Says:

    As the great, LATE Light said…

    “Just as keikaku’d.”

  4. Baka-Raptor Says:

    Wow, a post about anime!

  5. lelangir Says:

    I second Baka-Raptor.

    In any case, I think “stealing”, “morality”, “ethics”, and “justice”, are pretty subjective things, in the end.

  6. Michael Says:

    Baka-Raptor:

    RAAAAAAAGGGGGEEEEEE

    lelangir:

    Actually, that’s a very good point. :3

  7. RyanA Says:

    RAGE U, didn’t read this Mike, I’m streaming through the R2 episode as I speak, streaming sounds a bit fast, maybe strolling… yea I’m strolling through them. I’ll be back though ^^

    check it -> http://rss.melative.com/user/akaboy/reflections/anime/Code+Geass:+Lelouch+of+the+Rebellion+R2

  8. berkles Says:

    wow and here i thought i would be the first to reference the categorical imperative and code geass

    ::trashes post::

    i guess i can still use my backup about ends justifying means and utilitarianism in code geass

    also GOODU JOBU on the whole taking down the man bit…i have done that exact same thing before, but it was in a local best buy and i couldnt afford my new gaming mouse

  9. Michael Says:

    berkles:

    Thanks. I am actually proud of that achievement myself. Though despite being tempted to doing it again I try and hold myself back. I don’t want to degrade into theft, because repetition breeds complacence.

    RyanA:

    Why not? I read those comments of yours, thanks.

    meganeshounen:

    Totally spoiled me there. I thought you were kidding. Damn.

  10. Ryan A Says:

    lol, I think I had a misprint in my comment. should have been something like:
    RAGE, I haven’t yet read this Mike.

    Now through episode 19, I’ve read. I agree with meganeshounen, about Lelouch’ s “humanity”, the thing that kills me is his single-mindedness (same with most of the characters for that matter). Single-mindedness isn’t really a problem when it’s one looking out for one, but if consideration for others is necessary, the self-centered attitude becomes inadequate, and likely leads to failure of objectives. Plus, it’s quite sickening.

    I like what you did, a sort of “silent protest” with action. No reason to charge high for things like books, and since they are being monopolized, I don’t see what’s wrong with that sort of battle.

  11. Kaiserpingvin Says:

    A very übermenschlisch act, and properly revolutionary in a marxist context. What’s next? Renaming yourself Zoroaster? ‘Cause that’d be awesome material for a post. Just throwing out the opportunity for you here.

  12. Michael Says:

    Kaiserpingvin:

    Thanks. But I won’t go that far, you know. Maybe sometime later. :3

    Ryan:

    Oh.

    It’s a great watch if only to observe his struggle within himself, and yes, it is also quite sickening. Um, I actually would like to do what I did again, but then that would be tantamount to stealing and the symbolic act would be degraded to just some sort of robbery. :S

  13. Crusader Says:

    Breaking the law may be fun for a while but once you get caught we’ll if your an adult the consequences are much rougher. If I were you I’d pay no heed to your local monopolistic bookstore and just get stuff online, and hope that the local monopoly goes under for their pricing policies that or hope that a major book selling chain sets up shop and watch the price war begin.

    Morality may be relative but the law is pretty much absolute for the most part. I prefer to stay on the enforcement side of the law. If it were me I could never do what you did, but I would have been moving books around randomly and lazily while “browsing.” It’s not breaking the law but remains a dick move. You could just read in the store and be an aisle kid for a day and not buy a bloody thing.

  14. jp_zer0 Says:

    It’s obvious that Code Geass is influenced by existential themes, I’ve talked about it at length on my blog but I’ve never found a character quite like Lelouch. The comparison I finally made was that Lelouch was a modern “Zarathustra”. However, even that didn’t strike me as even a remotely appreciable comparison.

    Saying that, I’ll just have to take a look at this book by Dostoevsky.

    I’ve also compared to Lelouch myself although I can never hold a straight face when I do it. Most interestingly, we share a pseudonym and we have a knack for theatrical appearances while keeping the casual conversations at bay.

    BTW, I don’t know if you’re with me but I really think French and English need a word for schadenfreude.

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