L’Russe Besuhof

Peak Pierre. That’s what we’ve reached today. I understand that I’ve said that before but it’s probably more true now. Or maybe his character is so intricate and well-developed that he’s more a mountain range of many peaks than a simple single arc. At any rate, this is peak Pierre because today he vacillates between the sweetest heights and lovely fragrances of love and tranquility down into the truly absurd, unmindful mental ravings of a paranoid narcissist.

I love this guy.

Things start out well enough. He’s put away all thoughts of “the problem of the vanity and uselessness of all earthly things that had incessantly tormented him.” It’s always nice to do that. He’s able to do this because of love. Love for Natasha.

It turns out, however, at this point in the novel anyway, that love for Natasha isn’t quite enough. Pierre soon gets right back into his usual mode in society: drinking, idleness, dissipation. This leads to a profound restlessness that manifests an idea in his mind that some great catastrophe shall soon come. When he goes off in search of a sign of this catastrophe that’s when he truly goes off the deep end.

One day a fellow Mason informs him about a supposed prophecy found in the Book of Revelation: If you take the French alphabet and assign it the same numerical values as the Hebrew in which the first nine letters denote units and the others ten, and then you read the fifth verse of eighth chapter of that book you get L’Empereur Napoléon and, finally, if you substitute the letters for the numbers you get the number of the Beast.

Pierre runs with it. He’s convinced there’s more hidden in that great book. So he searches.

He substitutes Emperor Alexander’s name in. Nothing. He substitutes his own name. Still nothing. He writes his name in French. Yet again nothing. He changes the spelling of his name. That doesn’t work twice. Then, when he writes L’Russe Besuhof he gets the desired 666 value. Obviously this means that the cosmos are investing him with the historic responsibility of taking up arms and defeating the beastly invader.

Readers, let me say here that should you ever find yourself in the position of searching for alphanumeric messages hidden deep within revealed scripture suggesting you assassinate a world leader it’s time to put down whatever you’re reading, pick up a phone, and call a trained psychiatrist.

You’re not that important. Nobody is.


How small a part of the boundless and unfathomable time is assigned to every man! For it is very soon swallowed up in the eternal. And how small a part of the whole substance! And how small a part of the universal soul! And on what small clod of the whole earth you creep! Reflecting on this, consider nothing to be great except to act as your nature leads you, and to endure that which the common nature brings.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

This is the one hundred and eighty-second 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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