No.3: Dostoevsky in prison

“I am in prison … Here is my anchorage for many long years, the corner to which I have come with such feelings of pain and misgiving…But who knows? Perhaps when, after many years, the time comes for me to leave it, I shall be sorry to go”, I added, not without a tinge of that enjoyment of misfortune which is sometimes carried to the length of an irresistible desire to reopen one’s wounds – as though one could be in love with one’s own pain, as though one found true pleasure in the realization of the full extent of one’s unhappiness.

Memoirs from the House of the Dead, tr. Jessie Coulson, OUP, 2001, p.80

And here are some links.

imprisonment (p.85)
In this state, the distant is tucked into the near, the precious is revealed in what has been discarded. We seek all possible forms – and we’ll jump tracks to find them. We leave the world behind, and in doing so, we lose our sense of proportion – the cause of both imprisonment and escape, of all absurdities and outrages.

The following were all in prison at one time or another: Paul Verlaine (p.8), Marquis de Sade (p.68), the Prisonaires (p.94), Hans van Meegeren (p.137), Jean Genet (p.154).

pain (p.9)
Rock’n’roll went through a lot of hell, man. People have put it through a lot of pain. But it’s carried its own load and it’s come through. You are not going to beat it.

pain (p.27)
Hunter S.Thompson starts Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with a quotation from Dr. Johnson:
He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.
This isn’t an easy one to handle.

misfortune (p.63)
Why did you leave your father’s house?
To seek misfortune.

misfortune (p.95)
Devotion and alienation go hand in hand – one in a gossamer gown, the other in leathers and chains. Celebrity is born of their union. And it’s an unholy one, whatever the devotees say. Grace or misfortune, trial or temptation – who can tell the difference? Either way, it’s a derangement. Both can be packaged so that we can ‘have’ them. But we’ve already been had, haven’t we?

desire (p.51)
We enter into things all the time. That’s why identity is a journey: not simply because life passes but because we pass into it. It’s not so much what we’re doing as what’s coming our way.
Desires and Adorations,
Wingèd Persuasions and veiled Destinies,
Splendours and Glooms, and glimmering Incarnations
Of hopes and fears, and twilight Phantasies…
Came in slow pomp.
All of this is yours and mine, sure. But don’t forget this, either (from John Milton):
Sometimes let gorgeous tragedy
In sceptered pall come sweeping by.
The tempest of the gods stoops down and we start spinning.

desire (p.81)
Yet those who desire life can never be kept down. Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere, as the song has it.

desire (p.104)
Consciousness and the desire to escape it arise together.

wounds (p.77)
My whole life has been a seizure. Ah yes: paroxysms and upheavals – not as a consequence but as a means. I was much too far out all my life – and not waving but drowning. Swept into the dark depths. When your wounds won’t heal, you start to show them to people. If I don’t get some shelter, I’m gonna fade away.

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