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Notes from the Underground

III
With people who know how to revenge themselves and to stand up for
themselves in general, how is it done? Why, when they are possessed, let us
suppose, by the feeling of revenge, then for the time there is nothing else but that
feeling left in their whole being. Such a gentleman simply dashes straight for his
object like an infuriated bull with its horns down, and nothing but a wall will stop
him. (By the way: facing the wall, such gentlemen--that is, the "direct" persons
and men of action--are genuinely nonplussed. For them a wall is not an evasion,
as for us people who think and consequently do nothing; it is not an excuse for
turning aside, an excuse for which we are always very glad, though we scarcely
believe in it ourselves, as a rule. No, they are nonplussed in all sincerity. The wall
has for them something tranquillising, morally soothing, final-- maybe even
something mysterious ... but of the wall later.)
Well, such a direct person I regard as the real normal man, as his tender mother
nature wished to see him when she graciously brought him into being on the
earth. I envy such a man till I am green in the face. He is stupid. I am not
disputing that, but perhaps the normal man should be stupid, how do you know?
Perhaps it is very beautiful, in fact. And I am the more persuaded of that
suspicion, if one can call it so, by the fact that if you take, for instance, the
antithesis of the normal man, that is, the man of acute consciousness, who has
come, of course, not out of the lap of nature but out of a retort (this is almost
mysticism, gentlemen, but I suspect this, too), this retort-made man is sometimes
so nonplussed in the presence of his antithesis that with all his exaggerated
consciousness he genuinely thinks of himself as a mouse and not a man. It may
be an acutely conscious mouse, yet it is a mouse, while the other is a man, and
therefore, et caetera, et caetera. And the worst of it is, he himself, his very own
self, looks on himself as a mouse; no one asks him to do so; and that is an
important point. Now let us look at this mouse in action. Let us suppose, for
instance, that it feels insulted, too (and it almost always does feel insulted), and
wants to revenge itself, too. There may even be a greater accumulation of spite
in it than in l'homme de la nature et de la vérité. The base and nasty desire to
vent that spite on its assailant rankles perhaps even more nastily in it than in
l'homme de la nature et de la vérité. For through his innate stupidity the latter
looks upon his revenge as justice pure and simple; while in consequence of his
acute consciousness the mouse does not believe in the justice of it. To come at
last to the deed itself, to the very act of revenge. Apart from the one fundamental
nastiness the luckless mouse succeeds in creating around it so many other
nastinesses in the form of doubts and questions, adds to the one question so
many unsettled questions that there inevitably works up around it a sort of fatal
brew, a stinking mess, made up of its doubts, emotions, and of the contempt spat
upon it by the direct men of action who stand solemnly about it as judges and
arbitrators, laughing at it till their healthy sides ache. Of course the only thing left
for it is to dismiss all that with a wave of its paw, and, with a smile of assumed
contempt in which it does not even itself believe, creep ignominiously into its
mouse-hole. There in its nasty, stinking, underground home our insulted, crushed
 
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