Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Room at the Bottom

We all know the joys of degradation. Perhaps I should rephrase that: We must all have lived through times when we discover it was pleasurable, even relaxing, to run ourselves down. […] Then we find ourselves in a place where we can wallow blissfully in our existence, our smell, our filth, our habits, the place where we can abandon all hope of self-improvement and stop trying to nurture optimistic thoughts about other human beings. This resting place is so comfortable that we cannot help feeling grateful for the anger and selfishness that has brought us to this moment of freedom and solitude.
From Chapter 36, ‘Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground: the Joys of Degradation’, in Other Colours by Orhan Pamuk:
A film still veiled his eyes but they burned no longer. A power, akin to that which had often made anger or resentment fall from him, brought his steps to rest. He stood still and gazed up at the sombre porch of the morgue and from that to the dark cobbled laneway at its side. He saw the word Lotts on the wall of the lane and breathed slowly the rank heavy air.
- That is horse piss and rotted straw, he thought. It is a good odour to breathe. It will calm my heart. My heart is quite calm now. I will go back.
From Chapter 2 of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.

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