[Anyone who knows me knows the difficulty I have reading--let alone enjoying--fiction. I've tried multiple times. One day, in my room at the Bartlows, wanting to take seriously the advice of multiple academic writers I respect to read fiction (the literary greats), I came across "The Brothers Karamazov" on the book shelf. Reluctently I picked it up, already frustrated because I knew I wasn't going to like it, and read the first page... and for some odd reason I continued to the next page, then the next, and the next. I may have found what I've been looking for.]
The elder Zosima, a beloved Russian monk, talking to Mr. Karamazov:
"A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself as well as for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love and, in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal, in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying--lying to others and to yourself. A man who lies to himself, for instance, can take offense whenever he wishes, for there are times when it is rather pleasant to feel wronged--don't you agree? So a man may know very well that no one has offended him, and may invent an offense, lie just for the beauty of it, or exaggerate what someone said to create a situation, making a mountain out of a molehill. And although he is well aware of it himself, he nevertheless does feel offended because he enjoys doing so, derives great pleasure from it, and so he comes to feel real hostility toward the imaginary offender."