something else from Dostoevsky
From Bakhtin’s Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics:
“In the compositionally expressed dialogues of Dostoevsky’s characters, there are also no separate thoughts or positions. They never argue over separate points, but always over whole points of view, inserting themselves and their entire idea into even the briefest exchange.”
Something reading Socratic Dialogue teaches, whether Plato’s or Dostoevsky’s, is that in human conversation, though often disguised as the arrangement and rearrangement of ideas or theses, something else is always at stake: “whole points of view”–the often disparate positionings, postures, stances of human lives toward ultimate reality, and the possible transformations or deformations of those positions. Such possibilities are always difficult to discern beforehand, because one is in one’s position, and to recognize the ways in which one’s position is not self-defining, and might therefore be re-defined, one would have to be somehow outside one’s position:
we might imagine a way of standing that leans beyond its stance, a habit of being-beyond-oneself, a readiness to unfold what unwonted gestures are called for, a readiness to respond to the voice of another.
Shatov appeals to this readiness that is at the heart of all human talking, trying to unsettle Stavrogin’s deeply disfigured and impermeable posture, trying to point with halting, hyperbolic gestures toward “something else“:
“I beg you to treat me with respect, I insist on it!” shouted Shatov, “not my personality–I don’t care a hang for that, but something else, just for this once. While I am talking … we are two beings, and have come together in an infinity … for the last time in the world. Drop your tone and speak like a human being! Speak, if only for once in your life with the voice of a man. I say it not for my sake but for yours…”