Throughout the past year I’ve thought pretty regularly about the difference between being transparent and being vulnerable, and about what each represents about our worldview. What I keep coming back to is that the former is the act of being open, the more so “unfiltered” ethos, whereas the latter rests in being honest with one’s self, despite what that might elicit from others.
Well, this all came back to the front of my mind yesterday while I read a passage from The Brothers Karamazov. This excerpt is about the sinfully embarrassing father of three, Fyodor Pavlovitch, meeting the story’s strongest Christ-figure, Father Zosima. As Fyodor’s party was arriving at the monastery, for the first in the novel, Fyodor seems to finally be recognizing social cues, and is depicted as silently and reverently awaiting Zosima’s company. However, once the monastic father comes, in an attempt to “be seen” as humble, Fyodor’s transparency gets the better of him.
Shortly after being called a liar, the depraved Fyodor - in all his pride - put on the mask of transparency, and spoke,
And then soon after being scrutinized for a tasteless joke, and being informed of how he’s socially hurting himself, Dostoevsky carries on by further painting the scene.
To fully grasp the convicting level of verbal vomiting that Fyodor Pavlovitvh commits here, imagine yourself in the presence of someone that might intimidate you, or that you want (or “need”) to impress. What do you do? How do you want to be seen? How do you show up?
DOSTOEVSKY, FYODOR (2013-09-01). THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV (illustrated, complete, and unabridged) (p. 41-43). Dostoevsky Classic Fiction: The Brothers Karamazov. Kindle Edition.