How we cite our quotes:
Let’s pause on these heights. Now you understand what I meant when I spoke of aiming higher. I was talking, it so happens, of those supreme summits, the only places I can really live. Yes, I have never felt comfortable except in lofty places. Even in the details of daily life, I needed to feel above (2.9).
Jean-Baptiste feels above others by choosing lofty physical locales. If this is the case, then what is he doing in Amsterdam? For those of you who haven’t trekked over there yet, the city is actually below sea-level and protected by dikes – otherwise it would be under water.
I am well aware that one can’t get along without domineering or being served. Every man needs slaves as he needs fresh air. Commanding is breathing […]. In another way, it is convincing. Somebody has to have the last word. Otherwise, every reason can be answered with another one and there would never be an end to it. Power, on the other hand, settles everything (3.6).
Even though Jean-Baptiste is in his supposedly "enlightened" state, he’s still lying to himself about his reasons for acting. In other words, he loves power because it makes him personally feel like God, not because he honestly believes that power is what makes the world function.
The truth is that every intelligent man, as you know, dreams of being a gangster and of ruling over society by force alone. As it is not so easy as the detective novels might lead one to believe, one generally relies on politics and joins the cruelest party. What does it matter, after all, if by humiliating one’s mind one succeeds in dominating everyone? I discovered in myself sweet dreams of oppression (3.17).
Jean-Baptiste identifies two stages in his lust for power: the first was wanting it but not realizing it, and the second, during his "discovery" period, was wanting power and finally becoming aware of it. Think about his feelings of power now as he tells you his confession.