Having reread Crime and Punishment, I cannot help but be impressed by Dostoyevsky’s understanding of both human behavior and particular human evil. Of course, he spent a fair portion of his early life behind bars for having passed out socialist pamphlets. More, his own father was a sadist as parents anywhere go: his serfs finally revolted and poured boiling oil down his throat. So Dostoyevsky had a lot to mull over about the human condition that perhaps I have been lucky enough to avoid.
Nonetheless, I have written books and hope to write more books that attempt to understand the depths of what it means to be human–if through a largely Jewish lens. Brazil was a book in which I dropped the figure Aher (Other) in the country it is named for. Aher is a figure in the Jewish Talmud who saw a child fall from a tree and die, and hence lost faith in Judaism. (Despite this, Aher is quoted once in the Pirkei Avot, or Ethics of the Fathers.) I had been looking for a way to describe the 3rd World in Art for a long time… in high school I always wished I could describe a place like Rio or Shanghai, but had no way of describing them because I had never been to them.
I felt that like Dickens’ London, these places could be helped if people saw that their poverty was not necessary and must change. On learning about Aher, I saw the appropriate eye with which to view Brazil the place–though I did find out it is not the worst off place in Latin America. So I researched Brazil as best I could–I hope I did a good job–and introduced the rabbinical student Jose Baruch, who became “Other” after leaving the faith.
I will leave the reader to find my book–should the revised draft ever be in print–however, I have a sequel and a prequel I would like to write for the book. The sequel is the story of Isaias, Other’s adopted son. It is called Wild Rose because like wild roses, a street child in Brazil is a beautiful flower treated as a noxious weed. Yet although loved by Other, Isaias longs for his deceased brother Manuel and finds himself wondering about the fate of another street orphan, Indio. In his teenage years, he goes back to his old neighborhood and finds Indio has fathered an illegitimate child of his own, and the mother of the child is a prostitute.
I also want to write God’s Laughter Reverberates on Sugar Loaf Mountain about Father Joao, a story including both the backstory of why he became a priest–he was a heedless young man until his younger brother died–and then leads up through his caring for orphans at an orphanage he starts until COVID-19 arrives. I admit this makes Father Joao almost too much of a saint, yet he never loses his initial tendency to wry humor and even skepticism towards what people gullibly assume to be “the way things are.” He believes that behind the veil of how things seem is often how things actually are. He says that, “I learned this studying Kant.” He also continues to read Voltaire as a priest.