(November 7, 1866)
Possessed by an obsession—do you know the torment?
No, your mind is too calm; you’re too cold and stale; you have no inkling of this torture. Well, I’m 18 years old, a fervent soul, free from any excessive pleasure, my body brimming with life, and every nerve. I’m domineered by an obsession: To be free.
That’s my master, my tyrant, my executioner who hells me and racks me every day without ever letting go. I’m in its hand, under its whip. I have to live, act and think like it.
Every comparison, every metaphor is too weak to make my agony felt.
It’s the too short chain binding me to the post. It’s the too narrow cell in which I constantly whirl and knock against the walls.
And more: it’s the octopus of the novelist who grabs me, holds me and squeezes me in its hideous embrace. We are one: it drinks me, breathes me, assimilates my being. I’m no longer myself. I am it. The man is transformed; all his faculties are absorbed in the desire; it is nothing but a passion served by the will.
Ah! Just a little bit of freedom!
I’m hungry, give me food! One hour a day, that’s not too much. You have nothing to worry about, I’ll do nothing else to be free, but for one hour I’ll tell myself, “You can go wherever you want, do whatever you feel, good or bad, freely, without control.” And I’ll be happy.
I was young and I loved deeply and my heart overflowed with enthusiasm!
And I mixed with the crowd and hung out with my peers and told them out loud what I was thinking!
And they looked at me stupidly, without understanding.
And I went away from them and they called me, “Stuck up!”
And at times in my solitude my loves, my enthusiasms, come together and pour out in odes and speeches. And my comrades laugh and point their finger at me like I was crazy.
So, I suffered, I doubted, I cursed and nobody thought I was sincere.
This heart, once so full of energy and love, is like annihilated.