When Fyodor Dostoevsky was arrested on April 23, 1849 and sentenced to death for being a radical and threat to the Czar-- the Russian police had him lined up in the freezing cold and ready to shoot him down. They left him there waiting for the blast of gunfire that would take his life. During this time the others lined up broke down but Dostoevsky remained steadfast. After this exercise he was imprisoned in Siberia and spent four years of hard labor with many other prisoners who were in for murder. During this time Dostoevsky realized that these fellow brutalized humans in Siberia were what Nietzsche called the strong sick man. They had a strength and a resource that the average human could not draw from but this inner power was poisoned with the criminal mind. Dostoevsky recognized a virtue in this inner force that was a push back with energy that gave one the resources to deal with anything. Dostoevsky's dynamic mix. Dostoevsky had a critical mind to be able to see the good in the presumed bad and the bad in the perceived good. Nietzsche stated "The criminal type is the type of the strong human being under unfavorable circumstances: a strong human being made sick... Dostoevsky, the only psychologist, incidentally, from whom I had something to learn...lived for a long time among the convicts in Siberia—hardened criminals for whom there was no way back to society—and found them very different from what he himself had expected: they were carved out of just about the best, hardest, and most valuable wood that grows anywhere on Russian soil."
The Warrior Scholar
In the movie Eastern Promises the character Nikolai played by Viggo Mortensen reminds me of Dostoevsky's strong criminal. A dual force of brutal strength and compassion with understanding. This dualism is what Dostoevsky was observing in the harshness of that Siberian prison. ElieWiesel who survived the hell of Auschwitz wrote, "But now, I no longer pleaded for anything. I was no longer able to lament. On the contrary, I felt very strong… My eyes had opened …" That resource that came to him as a bolt of lightning can be very powerful as long as one survives its touch. It is like an eagle that does not look for shelter during a storm but rises above the clouds and the storm itself. Tupac talked about a rose that grew from concrete. It would rise with deformities due to its struggle but it would be much more powerful and stronger than most for the same reason.
A deep pool of strength and defiance energized by adversity and yet it is combined with a calm steel like peace. Like the fictional fight club it starts with cookie dough characters whose biggest crisis is missing their favorite tv show and ends in those being carved out of wood and tougher than leather who are able to remain resolved and cool in various degrees of high drama. "We burn the fat off our souls."