Anton Chekhov's 8 Tips to Avoid Turdliness

Some old fashioned-looking dudes who could be eligible to be "cultured"

Anton Chekhov wrote some of the most long-winded plays about messed up families since Shakespeare.  He also wrote a list of 8 characteristics of cultured people that was recently uncovered by Brainpickings.  While none of them include writing (or attending) really long plays about messed up families, they do include some good principles for life that could basically be renamed "Avoiding Douchebaggery With Anton Chekhov: 8 Rules for Not Being a Turd".

Aside from the obvious assumption in this writing that only men count as "cultured people", as well as a slight leaning towards "all work and no play or sleep or eating or anything else but working until you drive yourself mad and write really really long plays about messed up families makes Anton a cultured boy", I would suggest that there is advice to be followed here.

Just to prove that there's nothing new under the sun, it even applies directly to the most annoying things people do on Facebook.

Without further ado, here is how Chekhov suggests you be a decent person.

1) They respect human personality, and therefore they are always kind, gentle, polite, and ready to give in to others. They do not make a row because of a hammer or a lost piece of india-rubber; if they live with anyone they do not regard it as a favour and, going away, they do not say “nobody can live with you.” They forgive noise and cold and dried-up meat and witticisms and the presence of strangers in their homes.

So basically, you are not a gift to everyone around you so don't be a jerk; if someone accidentally loses/breaks your things (especially that india-rubber), be nice about it; share.

2) They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone. Their heart aches for what the eye does not see…. They sit up at night in order to help …., to pay for brothers at the University, and to buy clothes for their mother.

So basically, take care of everyone - friends, the poor, and your sweet old mother.

3) They respect the property of others, and therefor pay their debts.

So basically, don't steal or mooch.

4) They are sincere, and dread lying like fire. They don’t lie even in small things. A lie is insulting to the listener and puts him in a lower position in the eyes of the speaker. They do not pose, they behave in the street as they do at home, they do not show off before their humbler comrades. They are not given to babbling and forcing their uninvited confidences on others. Out of respect for other people’s ears they more often keep silent than talk.

So basically, tell the truth, but try to avoid cornering people at parties or on airplanes and spewing out your life story.

5) They do not disparage themselves to rouse compassion. They do not play on the strings of other people’s hearts so that they may sigh and make much of them. They do not say “I am misunderstood,” or “I have become second-rate,” because all this is striving after cheap effect, is vulgar, stale, false….

So basically, Facebook updates should be reserved for actual updates, not vague "I am unhappy with myself" comments so that people feel obligated to say nice things to you.

6) They have no shallow vanity. They do not care for such false diamonds as knowing celebrities, shaking hands with the drunken P., [Translator’s Note: Probably Palmin, a minor poet.] listening to the raptures of a stray spectator in a picture show, being renowned in the taverns…. If they do a pennyworth they do not strut about as though they had done a hundred roubles’ worth, and do not brag of having the entry where others are not admitted…. The truly talented always keep in obscurity among the crowd, as far as possible from advertisement…. Even Krylov has said that an empty barrel echoes more loudly than a full one.

So basically, stop with the name-dropping and Facebook updates that make your tiniest good deed sound like you could have put Mother Teresa out of business.

7) If they have a talent they respect it. They sacrifice to it rest, women, wine, vanity…. They are proud of their talent…. Besides, they are fastidious.

So basically, work hard. And, you know, never sleep or drink or be happy, only work hard.

8) They develop the aesthetic feeling in themselves. They cannot go to sleep in their clothes, see cracks full of bugs on the walls, breathe bad air, walk on a floor that has been spat upon, cook their meals over an oil stove. They seek as far as possible to restrain and ennoble the sexual instinct…. What they want in a woman is not a bed-fellow … They do not ask for the cleverness which shows itself in continual lying. They want especially, if they are artists, freshness, elegance, humanity, the capacity for motherhood…. They do not swill vodka at all hours of the day and night, do not sniff at cupboards, for they are not pigs and know they are not. They drink only when they are free, on occasion…. For they want mens sana in corpore sano [a healthy mind in a healthy body].

So basically, be a clean and take care of your stuff, perhaps to the point of slight prissiness; don't look at women as mere sex objects but also as baby-making objects (okay, okay, and freshness, elegance, and humanity, which sounds like some kind of respect for her entire self); avoid getting drunk too much and don't think of yourself as a pig.

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