It is difficult to get across how it feels, this illness. A long time ago, I had such vigour, such life. Now I simply wish that my life would end. It is not that my current infirmity is unbearable in itself. It is what I was that occupies my mind. Some of the things I achieved are – were – so remarkable that now I can barely comprehend that I did indeed achieve them. You may even have had the pleasure of reading about them, though I suspect you would not connect what you have read with this litany of misery.
Degeneration is, I am told, a 'fact of life', as though that is some compensation. My body began its long, significant decline many years ago, though it is only recently that my mind has joined it on this downward slide. I suspect that this experience is common. However, I wonder whether any who were to share my specific predicament would, or could, feel differently to me. I wonder if any have have indeed shared my unusual fate.
I had given up on being explicit, because those with whom I am honest seem to lose interest in my story. Consequently, I have found myself resorting to a kind of trickery, I suppose, enticing the eager reader with what might at first come across as sophistication. This has been better, at least, than facing again the seemingly widely-held assumption that I am a fantasist, simply confused about 'wie es eigentlich gewesen'. Well, Leopold, at the time I told you a few tales, I told you how it essentially was, but you didn't believe me then and no one believes me now.
I do not pretend that now I could tell you everything, but if you cared to ask, I could probably give you some idea of what happened, if I was there. And for a lot of the events you might ask about, I was there. My legacy torments me every time I visit the library, every time I begin to read, and I find that now my mind is failing, now that I can no longer grow and change, this is intolerable. I cry for help but my captors – they do not think of themselves that way – do not heed it.
A new pestilence seems to have arisen, the rapid and untrackable proliferation of the insignificant. This internet that captures so many imaginations, the emptiness of transient fame for nothing other than displaying ignorance, these are the tropes of the modern day. I had thought that the printing press would be the end, a challenge greater than I could meet. Then, I mastered my enemy. Now, I am beaten, decrepit, when I was once so accustomed to proficiency, to comprehension. I do not understand. That is the first time I have written those words, and I foresee myself uttering them frequently. I no longer understand. Help me.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought