L’Russe Besuhof (Reprise)
When the world ends it must be Macbeth’s Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow soliloquy that is engraved on its tombstone. Nothing written before and nothing written since has so simply captured the experience of what it is to be alive and animated by consciousness. Unfortunately, the price of profundity is often misinterpretation. Perhaps that is why many so many, particularly nature’s gravest mistake, the adolescent male, have adopted this passage, or at least a variation of the sound and fury signifying nothing portion of it, as the anthem of their angst. This isn’t the correct reading. The focus should instead be on the strutting and fretting about.
Pierre Bezukhov is the king of strutting and fretting about. In fact, that’s exactly what he was up to the last time we met with him. He’s still up to it today. He struts about with his head full of big notions of “sacrifice and suffering in view of the common calamity.” He frets over expansive feelings of “contempt for everything conventional, artificial, and human.” The guy is a walking mixtape of The Smiths songs and college town open mic night spoken word poetry.
Well, it’s because he’s one of Shakespeare’s poor players. He still believes he has an important role to play. His self-appointed role is that he must kill Napoleon. A common mistake, to be sure. We’ve all had that thought at one point or another. Still, it’s not until Pierre gives up all his strutting and fretting that he’ll gain any peace of mind.
Constantly recall those who have complained greatly about anything, those who have been most conspicuous by the greatest fame or misfortunes or enmities or fortunes of any kind; then think, Where are they all now? Smoke and ash and a tale, or not even a tale.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations