A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5
Leo Tolstoy was reportedly reading The World As Will And Representation by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer while writing War And Peace. Being a naturally curious fellow, and wanting to do my due diligence in preparing to craft this review, I set out to do a little research on Schopenhauer to figure out what exactly the man was all about, since Tolstoy has gone on to credit him with providing much of the inspiration, at least philosophically speaking, for his mighty epic.
So, what’s the verdict? Well, as usual with old, dead European philosophers, it is a bit of a mixed bag. The good - Schopenhauer was an early proponent, at least among the Occidental world, of Eastern schools of thought, particularly those originating from the Indian subcontinent. He spoke at length about the merits of taking a spiritual approach towards life, and the Hindu concept of maya (which basically suggests that this entire world is merely an illusion projected by our consciousness in order to teach us lessons about ourselves, but there is not really a “self” anyway since, in actuality, we are merely the universe, which is also God, which is also your next-door neighbor...it’s all pretty much just a giant, interactive slide show) served as the basis on which he was able to build his idea of the world as metaphysical will.
The bad - he believed that, aside from Hindus and Egyptians, it was the white race that was the most creative and civilized, and that women were “childish, frivolous, and short-sighted” as well as lacking artistic abilities and a sense of justice.
Well, if that seems pretty bad to you (and it should, since I just put it in the “bad” category), then you’d better brace yourself for the ugly. On the subject of pederasty, Schopenhauer wrote that it is a good way to prevent ill-begotten children.
But I’m sure Tolstoy was more into the stuff about the virtues of asceticism, and all that metaphysical hullabaloo. I don’t know, man. To be honest with you, War And Peace is a real doozy. I am not sure if I am properly equipped to write a review about it. Last night, I slept under a tree in a nearby playground, with only a pen, a notepad, and a set of seven harmonicas by my side. I went to sleep at six in the morning, and woke up three hours later. It is now noon, and I have yet to put anything substantial (besides toothpaste) in my mouth.
I am going to make a pizza.