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After that Nekhludoff did not see Katusha for more than threeyears. When he saw her again he had just been promoted to therank of officer and was going to join his regiment. On the way hecame to spend a few days with his aunts, being now a verydifferent young man from the one who had spent the summer withthem three years before. He then had been an honest, unselfishlad, ready to sacrifice himself for any good cause; now he wasdepraved and selfish, and thought only of his own enjoyment. ThenGod's world seemed a mystery which he tried enthusiastically andjoyfully to solve; now everything in life seemed clear andsimple, defined by the conditions of the life he was leading.Then he had felt the importance of, and had need of intercoursewith, nature, and with those who had lived and thought and feltbefore him,philosophers and poets. What he now considerednecessary and important were human institutions and intercoursewith his comrades. Then women seemed mysterious andcharming,charming by the very mystery that enveloped them; nowthe purpose of women, all women except those of his own familyand the wives of his friends, was a very definite one: women werethe best means towards an already experienced enjoyment. Thenmoney was not needed, and he did not require even one-third ofwhat his mother allowed him; but now this allowance of 1,500roubles a month did not suffice, and he had already had someunpleasant talks about it with his mother. human hair wigs denver

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Then he had looked on his spirit as the I; now it was his healthystrong animal I that he looked upon as himself. ebay human hair wigs

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And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceasedto believe himself and had taken to believing others. This he haddone because it was too difficult to live believing one's self;believing one's self, one had to decide every question not infavour of one's own animal life, which is always seeking for easygratifications, but almost in every case against it. Believingothers there was nothing to decide; everything had been decidedalready, and decided always in favour of the animal I and againstthe spiritual. Nor was this all. Believing in his own self he wasalways exposing himself to the censure of those around him;believing others he had their approval. So, when Nekhludoff hadtalked of the serious matters of life, of God, truth, riches, andpoverty, all round him thought it out of place and even ratherfunny, and his mother and aunts called him, with kindly irony,notre cher philosophe. But when he read novels, told improperanecdotes, went to see funny vaudevilles in the French theatreand gaily repeated the jokes, everybody admired and encouragedhim. When he considered it right to limit his needs, wore an oldovercoat, took no wine, everybody thought it strange and lookedupon it as a kind of showing off; but when he spent large sums onhunting, or on furnishing a peculiar and luxurious study forhimself, everybody admired his taste and gave him expensivepresents to encourage his hobby. While he kept pure and meant toremain so till he married his friends prayed for his health, andeven his mother was not grieved but rather pleased when she foundout that he had become a real man and had gained over some Frenchwoman from his friend. (As to the episode with Katusha, theprincess could not without horror think that he might possiblyhave married her.) In the same way, when Nekhludoff came of age,and gave the small estate he had inherited from his father to thepeasants because he considered the holding of private property inland wrong, this step filled his mother and relations with dismayand served as an excuse for making fun of him to all hisrelatives. He was continually told that these peasants, afterthey had received the land, got no richer, but, on the contrary,poorer, having opened three public-houses and left off doing anywork. But when Nekhludoff entered the Guards and spent andgambled away so much with his aristocratic companions that ElenaIvanovna, his mother, had to draw on her capital, she was hardlypained, considering it quite natural and even good that wild oatsshould be sown at an early age and in good company, as her sonwas doing. At first Nekhludoff struggled, but all that he hadconsidered good while he had faith in himself was considered badby others, and what he had considered evil was looked upon asgood by those among whom he lived, and the struggle grew toohard. And at last Nekhludoff gave in, i.e., left off believinghimself and began believing others. At first this giving up offaith in himself was unpleasant, but it did not long continue tobe so. At that time he acquired the habit of smoking, anddrinking wine, and soon got over this unpleasant feeling and evenfelt great relief.

Nekhludoff, with his passionate nature, gave himself thoroughlyto the new way of life so approved of by all those around, and heentirely stifled the inner voice which demanded somethingdifferent. This began after he moved to St. Petersburg, andreached its highest point when he entered the army.

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Military life in general depraves men. It places them inconditions of complete idleness, i.e., absence of all usefulwork; frees them of their common human duties, which it replacesby merely conventional ones to the honour of the regiment, theuniform, the flag; and, while giving them on the one handabsolute power over other men, also puts them into conditions ofservile obedience to those of higher rank than themselves.

But when, to the usual depraving influence of military servicewith its honours, uniforms, flags, its permitted violence andmurder, there is added the depraving influence of riches andnearness to and intercourse with members of the Imperial family,as is the case in the chosen regiment of the Guards in which allthe officers are rich and of good family, then this depravinginfluence creates in the men who succumb to it a perfect mania ofselfishness. And this mania of selfishness attacked Nekhludofffrom the moment he entered the army and began living in the wayhis companions lived. He had no occupation whatever except todress in a uniform, splendidly made and well brushed by otherpeople, and, with arms also made and cleaned and handed to him byothers, ride to reviews on a fine horse which had been bred,broken in and fed by others. There, with other men like himself,he had to wave a sword, shoot off guns, and teach others to dothe same. He had no other work, and the highly-placed persons,young and old, the Tsar and those near him, not only sanctionedhis occupation but praised and thanked him for it.

After this was done, it was thought important to eat, andparticularly to drink, in officers' clubs or the salons of thebest restaurants, squandering large sums of money, which camefrom some invisible source; then theatres, ballets, women, thenagain riding on horseback, waving of swords and shooting, andagain the squandering of money, the wine, cards, and women. Thiskind of life acts on military men even more depravingly than onothers, because if any other than a military man lead such a lifehe cannot help being ashamed of it in the depth of his heart. Amilitary man is, on the contrary, proud of a life of this kindespecially at war time, and Nekhludoff had entered the army justafter war with the Turks had been declared. "We are prepared tosacrifice our lives at the wars, and therefore a gay, recklesslife is not only pardonable, but absolutely necessary for us, andso we lead it."

Such were Nekhludoff's confused thoughts at this period of hisexistence, and he felt all the time the delight of being free ofthe moral barriers he had formerly set himself. And the state helived in was that of a chronic mania of selfishness. He was inthis state when, after three years' absence, he came again tovisit his aunts.

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