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Notes from the Underground

IV
"Ha, ha, ha! You will be finding enjoyment in toothache next," you cry, with a
laugh.
"Well, even in toothache there is enjoyment," I answer. I had toothache for a
whole month and I know there is. In that case, of course, people are not spiteful
in silence, but moan; but they are not candid moans, they are malignant moans,
and the malignancy is the whole point. The enjoyment of the sufferer finds
expression in those moans; if he did not feel enjoyment in them he would not
moan. It is a good example, gentlemen, and I will develop it. Those moans
express in the first place all the aimlessness of your pain, which is so humiliating
to your consciousness; the whole legal system of nature on which you spit
disdainfully, of course, but from which you suffer all the same while she does not.
They express the consciousness that you have no enemy to punish, but that you
have pain; the consciousness that in spite of all possible Wagenheims you are in
complete slavery to your teeth; that if someone wishes it, your teeth will leave off
aching, and if he does not, they will go on aching another three months; and that
finally if you are still contumacious and still protest, all that is left you for your own
gratification is to thrash yourself or beat your wall with your fist as hard as you
can, and absolutely nothing more. Well, these mortal insults, these jeers on the
part of someone unknown, end at last in an enjoyment which sometimes reaches
the highest degree of voluptuousness. I ask you, gentlemen, listen sometimes to
the moans of an educated man of the nineteenth century suffering from
toothache, on the second or third day of the attack, when he is beginning to
moan, not as he moaned on the first day, that is, not simply because he has
toothache, not just as any coarse peasant, but as a man affected by progress
and European civilisation, a man who is "divorced from the soil and the national
elements," as they express it now-a-days. His moans become nasty, disgustingly
malignant, and go on for whole days and nights. And of course he knows himself
that he is doing himself no sort of good with his moans; he knows better than
anyone that he is only lacerating and harassing himself and others for nothing;
he knows that even the audience before whom he is making his efforts, and his
whole family, listen to him with loathing, do not put a ha'porth of faith in him, and
inwardly understand that he might moan differently, more simply, without trills
and flourishes, and that he is only amusing himself like that from ill-humour, from
malignancy. Well, in all these recognitions and disgraces it is that there lies a
voluptuous pleasure. As though he would say: "I am worrying you, I am
lacerating your hearts, I am keeping everyone in the house awake. Well, stay
awake then, you, too, feel every minute that I have toothache. I am not a hero to
you now, as I tried to seem before, but simply a nasty person, an impostor. Well,
so be it, then! I am very glad that you see through me. It is nasty for you to hear
my despicable moans: well, let it be nasty; here I will let you have a nastier
flourish in a minute. ..." You do not understand even now, gentlemen? No, it
seems our development and our consciousness must go further to understand all
the intricacies of this pleasure. You laugh? Delighted. My jests, gentlemen, are of
 
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