Title: Legends and Wrestling Jacob: A Fragment.
Author: August Strindberg.
Genre: Non-fiction, autobiography, occult, religion, mental health, philosophy.
Publication Date: 1898.
Summary: Twelve autobiographical sketches, where Strindberg speaks of his inner turmoil, as well as the impact Emanuel Swedenborg had on his current work, and his forays around "empty" Paris.
My rating: 6.5/10.
♥ Prepared for anything, I endure resolutely to the uttermost the most extraordinary humiliations and observe how my expiatory pangs commence. Well-educated youths of good family treat me one night to a serenade of caterwauling in my corridor. I take it as something I have deserved without disturbing myself. I try to hire a furnished lodging. The landlord refuses with transparent excuses, and the refusal is flung in my face. I pay visits and am not received. These are mere trifles. But what really wounds me is the sublime irony shown in the unconscious behaviour of my young friends when they try to encourage me by praising my literary works, "so fruitful in liberating ideas, etc." And this to me, who have just flung these so-called ideas on the dust-heap, so that those who entertain these views are now my opponents! I am at war with my former self, and while I oppose my friends and those once of the same mind with me, I lay myself prostrate in the dust.
♥ Till the grey of morning I lie awake, expecting to feel the claws in my flesh, but in vain, for anxiety is more painful than death.
♥ The younger generation are waiting for something new without being clear as to what they want. Novelty at any price, whatever it be, with the exception of apologies and retreats! Forward to the unknown, no matter what, so long as it is not old! They want reconciliation with the gods, but they must be re-created or, rather, developed gods, who are up-to-date, have broad views, are free from petty prejudices, and intoxicated with the joy of life. The invisible powers have become all the more morose, envious of the freedom which mortals have won for themselves. Wine is poisoned, and causes madness instead of calling up pleasant visions. Love, regulated by social bonds, proves to be a life-and-death battle, and free love brings in its train nameless and numberless diseases, causes misery in homes, and its victims are execrated and outlawed. The period for experiments has passed away, and the experiments have produced only negative results. All the better for the men of the future who can derive wholesome lessons from the defeat of the advance guard, who have gone astray in the desert, and fallen in hopeless strife against superior force.
♥ Lucifer does not like to be caricatured.
♥ One stoops one's head before a stone flung at one, but what of the flinger whom one is not conscious of having seen?
♥ "What does this Swedenborg say?"
"He says a great deal, and he it is who has saved me from going mad. Consider now, he has given me back the power of sleep by a single sentence of four words."
"Say it, I beg you."
My courage sank, and has failed me every time that the possessed man has asked for this formula of exorcism.
But here I write down the four words which are worth all the doctors' regulations, "Do this no more."
Everyone's conscience must interpret the word "this" for himself. I, the undersigned, declare that I have obtained health and quiet sleep by obeying the above receipt.
♥ "You see," I say to him, "religion is a thing which one must appropriate for oneself; it is no use preaching it."
♥ Swedenborg's work is one of enormous compass, and he has answered all my questions, however presumptuous they may have been. Disquiet soul, suffering heart, "Take up and read."