The Brothers Karamazov, a homeless man, and Andrea Mantegna.
As I was walking along, I spotted this homeless man sleeping by the side of the sidewalk, and was holding as still as an Egyptian sarcophagus. I normally don’t feel right about taking homeless people’s pictures, or drawing them, but this time I couldn’t help myself. I took his photo while he slept, then did a couple of sketches of him while he slept. When he began to stir, I put away my sketchbook and camera, talked with him for a couple of minutes, then gave him a couple of bucks.
When I first saw him as I was walking by, his pose reminded me of an old painting by Andrea Mantegna. After I left and said my goodbye to this man, my mind wandered and this experience reminded me of a passage from the Brothers Karamazov, a book that I am currently reading, and was reading on the train into the city that day-
“…’I love mankind’, he said, ‘but I marvel at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love human beings in particular, separately, that is, as individual persons. In my dreams’, he said, ‘I would often arrive at fervent plans of devotion to mankind and might very possibly have gone to the cross for human beings, had that been suddenly required of me, and yet I am unable to spend two days in the same room with someone else, and this I know from experience. No sooner is that someone else close to me than his personality crushes my self-esteem and hampers my freedom. In the space of a day and a night I am capable of coming to hate even the best of human beings: one because he takes too long over dinner, another because he has a cold and is perpetually blowing his nose. I become the enemy of others,’ he said, ‘very nearly as soon as they come into contact with me. To compensate for this, however, it has always happened that the more I have hated human beings in particular, the more ardent has become my love for mankind in general.’ But what is to be done? What is to be done in such a case? Is one to give oneself to despair?”
I am still trying to better understand this passage.