This book is quite interesting; in it Rousseau recounts his life in explicit detail. Even though I don't really care about a lot of the things in his life, I do enjoy reading this. It's extremely well-written. Unfortunately, the quotations here are out of context. Some are here for their shock-value, but most for the writing style.
Book One: 1712-1719
"...such were my parents. And of all the gifts with which Heaven endowed them, they left me but one, a sensitive heart. It had been the making of their happiness, but for me it has been the cause of all the misfortunes in my life."
"I had grasped nothing; I had sensed everything. These confused emotions which I experienced one after another, did not warp my reasoning powers in any way, for as yet I had none. But they shaped them after a special pattern, giving me the strangest and most romantic notions about human life, which neither experience nor reflection has ever succeeded in curing me of."
"With sensuality burning in my blood almost from my birth, I kept myself pure and unsullied up to an age when even the coldest and most backward natures have developed. Tormented for a long while by I knew not what, I feasted feverish eyes on lovely women, recalling them ceaselessly to my imagination, but only to make use of them in my own fashion as so many Mlle Lamberciers."
"My passions are extremely strong, and while I am under their sway, nothing can equal my impetuosity. I am amenable to no restraint, respect, fear, or decorum. I am cynical, bold, violent, and daring. No shame can stop me, no fear of danger alarm me. Except for the one object in my mind the universe for me is non-existent. But all this lasts only a moment; and the next moment plunges me into complete annihilation. Catch me in a calm mood, I am all indolence and timidity. Everything alarms me, everything discourages me. I am frightened by a buzzing fly. I am too lazy to speak a word or make a gesture. So much am I a slave to fears and shames that I long to vanish from mortal sight. If action is necessary I do not know what to do; if I must speak I do not know what to say; if anyone looks at me I drop my eyes. When roused by passion, I can sometimes find the right words to say, but in ordinary conversation I can find none, none at all. I find conversation unbearable owing to the very fact that I am obliged to speak.
Furthermore, none of my dominant desires are for things that can be bought. All I need are simple pleasures, and money poisons them all. I am fond, for example, of a good meal, but cannot stand the boredom of polite company or the gross manners of an inn. I can only enjoy eating with a friend; when I am alone it is impossible, because my imagination is always busy with something else and I take no pleasure in my food. If the fire in my blood demands women, the emotion in my heart cries more loudly for love. Women who could be bought would lose all their charm for me. I doubt whether I could even take advantage of the situation. It is the same with all pleasures within my reach. If they are not to be had for nothing, they have no attraction for me. The only things I like are things that belong to no one but the first person who knows how to enjoy them.
Money has never seemed to me as precious as people think it. Indeed it has never seemed to me very useful. For it has no value in itself and must be transformed to be enjoyed. One must bargain and purchase often and be cheated, paying dear for poor services. I want an article of quality; but my money is sure to obtain a poor one. I pay a lot for a new laid egg, and it proves stale; for a ripe fruit, and it is green; for a girl, and she is debauched. I enjoy good wine, but where can I get it? At a wine merchant's? Notwithstanding all my precautions he will poison me. Supposing I insist on getting what I want. What trouble and embarrassment I must put myself to! I must use friends and correspondents, give orders, write, go hither and thither, wait; and often I shall be cheated in the end. What a trouble my money is! I am not fond enough of good wine to disturb myself to that extent."
"I love liberty; I hate embarrassment, worry, and constraint. So long as the money lasts in my purse, it assures me of independence and relieves me of the need of plotting to obtain more, a need which has always appalled me. So afraid am I to see it end that I treasure it. Money in one's possession is the instrument of liberty; money one pursues is the symbol of servitude. That is why I hold fast to what I have, but covet no more.
My disinterestedness, therefore, is a sign of indolence; the pleasure of possession is not worth the trouble involved in acquisition. And my mad spending is a sign of indolence, too; when the occasion for spending agreeably arises, too much use cannot be made of it. I am less tempted by money than by things, because between money and the desired object there is always an intermediary, whereas between a thing and its enjoyment there is none."