Dream is Destiny

Day 309 of A Year of War and Peace

(Source)

Today Pierre has another dream. Like his dream after the Battle of Borodino, it blends real events inside its dreamsphere and features a disembodied voice-over narrator. It is worth considering in full.

Here we have many of the novel’s themes as they relate to Pierre’s story arc: The impenetrable, ever-changing chaos of existence, the confounding nature of unjustified and ceaseless suffering, the presence of an inscrutable yet personal God.

The waking life events following Pierre’s dream confirm the truth of its message. He opens his eyes to the sorrowful terror of captivity. The brutality of man is on display as a French soldier mistreats a Russian prisoner. Then, just like the fluid globe of his dream, Pierre watches his fortune change. Denisov and Dolokhov arrive, liberating the Russians and subjecting the French to imprisonment.

Perhaps the most insightful portion of Pierre’s dream, however, is the narrator’s final question: “Do you understand, my child?”

The answer, of course, is that Pierre can never fully understand. Neither can we. Not really. Our answers must always be aspirational. Cosmically, like the narrator says, we are mere children: Small and uncomprehending, our knowledge a mere conceit, our quiddity a feeble and fugacious morass.

DAILY MEDITATION

We are weak, watery beings standing in the midst of unrealities; therefore let us turn our minds to the things that are everlasting. Let us look up to the ideal outlines of all things, that flit about on high, and to the God who moves among them and plans how he may defend from death that which he could not make imperishable because its substance forbade, and so by reason may overcome the defects of the body.

Seneca, Epistle LVIII

This is the three hundred and ninth installment in a daily, yearlong, chapter-by-chapter reading devotional and meditation on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For more information on this project please read the introduction to the series here.

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For my friends and family, love. For my enemies, durian fruit.

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