For before I met my friend there had been a period when I was prey to a morbid melancholy, if not depression, when I really believed I was lost, when for years I did no proper work but spent most of my days in a state of total apathy and often came close to putting an end to my life by my own hand. For years I had taken refuge in a terrible suicidal brooding, which deadened my mind and made everything unendurable, above all myself—brooding on the utter futility all around me, into which I had been plunged by my general weakness, but above all my weakness of character.
For a long time I could not imagine being able to go on living, or even existing. I was no longer capable of seizing upon any purpose in life that would have given me control over myself. Every morning on waking I was inevitably caught up in this mechanism of suicidal brooding, and I remained in its grip throughout the day. And I was deserted by everyone because I had deserted everyone—that is the truth—because I no longer wanted anyone. I no longer wanted anything, but I was too much of a coward to make an end of it all.
It was probably at the height of my despair—a word that I am not ashamed to use, as I no longer intend to deceive myself or gloss over anything, since nothing can be glossed over in a society and a world that perpetually seeks to gloss over everything in the most sickening manner—that Paul appeared on the scene at Irina’s apartment in the Blumenstockgasse.