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“The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I have always cultivated.”
— Oscar Wilde
“The most difficult task for the rational observer is to avoid becoming, through empathy or introspection, that which one observes. This ability, applied, enables a detective to emulate the impulses of the criminal – no matter how insane or counter-survival the result of their behavior might be. Fortunately, one need not become a criminal in order to fully comprehend the demented universe of these insane creatures!
Many years ago I read about the case of the Irish poet, Oscar Wilde, a man of great intelligence and artistic sensibilities. The man, although married, with children, who was a respectable person of society, was attracted into a licentious life through association with decadent perverts. It ruined him thoroughly, causing him to lose all that he had gained in reputation, respect, possessions and freedom.
This once great and clever man was cast out from society, and imprisoned to serve for two years of hard labour. As such, he was removed from contact with the depraved associates who precipitated his undoing. During the interval of his imprisonment he applied the innate intellect which elevated him above the multitude, to reflect upon the essence of his existence.
Here is a small portion of a letter he wrote to an associate which was published in the London Times obituary notice of his passing:
“When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal.
It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”
I have concluded that criminality, and insanity – forms of the same disease – are contagious. In human society, as with the cancerous cells of a dying body, a healthy cell can be corrupted or overwhelmed by proximity to or interaction with the cancer. Therefore, I esteem that it is important to differentiate and segregate the sane from the insane, the healthy from the unhealthy, and likewise, the identification of the spirit with the body.”
— Excerpt from SHERLOCK HOLMES: MY LIFE, by Lawrence R. Spencer