The first philosopher I ever read was Arthur Schopenhauer. I have no idea why. However, his thinking seems to have infected me. I keep thinking about his basic view of the futility of life. Basically: I keep doing the things I do so that I can keep doing the things that I do. I eat today so I will be alive tomorrow. And what will I do tomorrow? I will eat so I will be alive the next day. Given that the experience of life grows more and more grim as the days pass, I don’t too much see the point. When I was a child, things were nice because each day was new. That is no longer the case. What’s more, each day is filled with somewhat more physical pain and a great deal more psychic pain. So what is the point? I wish I knew.
Given this state of mind, it makes sense to take a step back and try to find some of the things that make life worth while. So I thought I would read some Don Quixote, which generally puts me in a better mood. I was going through the book, trying to find where I last stopped writing about it. I realized I was last reading about poor Cardenio. This is a story within a story. Our daring duo come upon this half-crazed man who tells us the story of his sad life: he made friends with the Duke’s son, who betrayed him with Cardenio’s fiance.
What I find interesting about this is that the basic plot sounds rather similar to a Lope de Vega play. In particular, Peribáñez y el Comendador de Ocaña. I am struck again at the revolutionary content of early 17th century Spanish fiction. Even with the constraints placed on them by the society, both Cervantes and Lope were skeptical of those in power. In their world, power did not equate to moral. This is very unlike the world of that English playwright.
Cardenio is in Chapters 23-24.