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Notes from the Underground

II
But the period of my dissipation would end and I always felt very sick afterwards.
It was followed by remorse--I tried to drive it away; I felt too sick. By degrees,
however, I grew used to that too. I grew used to everything, or rather I voluntarily
resigned myself to enduring it. But I had a means of escape that reconciled
everything--that was to find refuge in "the sublime and the beautiful," in dreams,
of course. I was a terrible dreamer, I would dream for three months on end,
tucked away in my corner, and you may believe me that at those moments I had
no resemblance to the gentleman who, in the perturbation of his chicken heart,
put a collar of German beaver on his great-coat. I suddenly became a hero. I
would not have admitted my six-foot lieutenant even if he had called on me. I
could not even picture him before me then. What were my dreams and how I
could satisfy myself with them--it is hard to say now, but at the time I was
satisfied with them. Though, indeed, even now, I am to some extent satisfied with
them. Dreams were particularly sweet and vivid after a spell of dissipation; they
came with remorse and with tears, with curses and transports. There were
moments of such positive intoxication, of such happiness, that there was not the
faintest trace of irony within me, on my honour. I had faith, hope, love. I believed
blindly at such times that by some miracle, by some external circumstance, all
this would suddenly open out, expand; that suddenly a vista of suitable activity--
beneficent, good, and, above all, ready made (what sort of activity I had no idea,
but the great thing was that it should be all ready for me)--would rise up before
me--and I should come out into the light of day, almost riding a white horse and
crowned with laurel. Anything but the foremost place I could not conceive for
myself, and for that very reason I quite contentedly occupied the lowest in reality.
Either to be a hero or to grovel in the mud--there was nothing between. That was
my ruin, for when I was in the mud I comforted myself with the thought that at
other times I was a hero, and the hero was a cloak for the mud: for an ordinary
man it was shameful to defile himself, but a hero was too lofty to be utterly
defiled, and so he might defile himself. It is worth noting that these attacks of the
"sublime and the beautiful" visited me even during the period of dissipation and
just at the times when I was touching the bottom. They came in separate spurts,
as though reminding me of themselves, but did not banish the dissipation by their
appearance. On the contrary, they seemed to add a zest to it by contrast, and
were only sufficiently present to serve as an appetising sauce. That sauce was
made up of contradictions and sufferings, of agonising inward analysis, and all
these pangs and pin-pricks gave a certain piquancy, even a significance to my
dissipation--in fact, completely answered the purpose of an appetising sauce.
There was a certain depth of meaning in it. And I could hardly have resigned
myself to the simple, vulgar, direct debauchery of a clerk and have endured all
the filthiness of it. What could have allured me about it then and have drawn me
at night into the street? No, I had a lofty way of getting out of it all.
And what loving-kindness, oh Lord, what loving-kindness I felt at times in those
dreams of mine! in those "flights into the sublime and the beautiful"; though it was
 
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