Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche
I’m sure the above quote has you wondering how your MannofStat came across the literary expression of a German philosopher. Right? Well, believe it or not, I’m currently enrolled in a reading and writing class with 20 other residents from the row. Dr. Peter Kuhns coordinated “Writing from Captivity”. We meet every Wednesday, from 3-4:30 p.m. This class is the first of it’s kind, and is so worthy of being chronicled in the W2TM vault. Na mean?
Our initial reading assignment was a book entitled, “Man’s Search For Meaning.” A story chronicling the experiences of Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, while being held captive in Nazi concentration camps throughout Poland. This is how I came across that high-powered quote from Nietzche; more from him later. Aight?
This book is a powerful read. The concentration camp experiences are very similar to my present day confinement. Now, I won’t deny my 2000-calorie diet portions are far more plentiful than Dr. Frankl’s periodical rations of bread and water. It’s more of the psychological warfare he speaks of that connects my personal struggle to his own.
One facet of this literary work speaks of how prison life is designed to strip a person of everything he/she has known themselves to be. A prime example of how a state manufactured inferiority complex is imposed upon a person is by including the term “inmate” with your name. Or, the way I’m forced to add my prison number to my outgoing mail. If my state issued identity number isn’t written beside my name, my mail won’t leave the prison mail room. Word is bond!!
I can strongly relate to Dr. Frankl’s perspective of prisoners becoming desensitized to the brutality of their environment, as a means of coping with their horrific experiences. I gotta tell you People; after enduring 35 executions – here at Central Prison – discussing the lethal injection debate, exhausted appeals and clemency hearings are as emotionless as the weekly laundry delivery. Real talk.
Much like Dr. Frankl; my circumstance has bred the motive for mastering the art of living. I refuse to accept my present circumstance, but my purpose in this life drives me to improve this circumstance, by making a positive difference in my environment. It’s been a long hard lesson, but I’ve learned that love is just as strong as death. Feel me?
Loving a person can get you through some tough times. Just thinking of that special someone will eclipse the morbidity of death. The truth is: love is what inspires me. Love is why my existence will always have meaning. Love is why I’ll never give up on freedom. Knowing that my life has meaning is the reason these words are far from a delusion of reprieve. Love is what gives me meaning.
Love has healed the metaphorical stab wounds in my back. The betrayal, humiliation and desertion are nonfactors to a prisoner who isn’t a slave to fate. It’s so good to be loved, Blogosphere. But it’s even better to genuinely love someone. Feel me?
So, here I am, today. Sharing a sound mind with the world, while battling the psychological warfare of my captors. My liberation is on the horizon – making me the embodiment of another famous quote spoken by Nietzche:
“That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” Ya heard?
Copyright © 2013 by Leroy Elwood Mann