[…]I was only seventeen years old, hardly more than a boy. When Tesla’s eyes went through me, I experienced my first taste of death. That’s closer to what I mean. I felt the taste of mortality in my mouth, and at that moment I understood that I was not going to live forever. It takes a long time to learn that, but when you finally do, everything changes inside you, you can never be the same again. I was seventeen years old, and all of a sudden, without the slighest flicker of a doubt, I understood that my life was my own, that it belonged to me and no one else.
‘I’m talking about freedom, Fogg. A sense of despair that becomes so great, so crushing, so catastrophic, that you have no choice but to be liberated by it. That’s the only choice, or else you crawl into a corner and die. Tesla gave me my death, and at that moment I knew that I was going to become a painter. That’s what I wanted, but until then I hadn’t had the balls to admit it.[…]