Talking Nonsense

Wonderful quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”, uttered by Razumikhin in an intense drunken rant in defence of his friend Raskolnikov, who may be going mad – talking nonsense – with the guilty complications of living with the double murder he has committed.

“Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms. It’s by talking nonsense that one gets to the truth !

I talk nonsense, therefore I am human.

Not one single truth has ever been arrived at without people first having talked [reams of nonsense] and that’s an honourable thing in its own way; well but we can’t even talk nonsense with our own brains ! Talk nonsense to me by all means, but do it with your own brain, and I shall love you for it. To talk nonsense in one’s own way is almost better than to talk a truth that’s someone else’s; in the first instance you behave like a human being, while in the second you are merely being a parrot ! […]

We’ve got accustomed to making do with other people’s intelligence – we’re soaked in it !”

Too true. I suspect Dostoevsky wasn’t drunk when he wrote it.

5 thoughts on “Talking Nonsense”

  1. Wittgenstein says something similar – probably derived from the Russians as he was very fond of them – along the lines of ‘there is more use in the valleys of silliness than on the barren heights of cleverness’. If I come across the exact quote again I’ll stick it up.

  2. Yes, I think I recall that myself … in the Philosophical Investigations ?
    (I’m a total convert to Wittgenstein’s later thinking. A real comedian.)

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