The Contemplator


In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky makes reference to this painting by Ivan Kramskoy (The Contemplator, 1876) in describing Smerdyakov: “he stands as if he were lost in thought, but he is not thinking, he is ‘contemplating’ something.”

A contemplator greedily stores up impressions he had been under while contemplating, even without realizing it. Why and for what, he does not know. Perhaps suddenly, having stored up his impressions over many years, “he will drop everything and wander off to Jerusalem to save his soul, or perhaps he will suddenly burn down his native village, or perhaps he will do both.”

There are contemplators. Look around.