With every passing day and year, the mounting suspicion that I have never existed. What evidence would testify to my passage across the surface of this earth, itself so irrepessibly, undeniably present? Did I, in fact, come of age in that small, inhospitable country in the shadow of what I—what we all—had believed, truly believed, was the nation of Gods come to rescue a continent and a world from depredation and impurity? Did I truly number among the squalid ranks of an army built, not to defend, but surely to project and to convey the inevitability of that greatness to the farthest corners of the civilized world? What glory did I, myself, construct or imbibe? What proof is there that I was there? No scar, no wound, no photograph (but for that single, tattered one of ruins and rubble, savage for its anonymity, its brutal facelessness), no memory of triumph, nor of vengeance, however fleeting. Of hunger, it would seem, there was bounty, and of depravity in the face of such starvation: by the time the final bombs rained down on the carcass of Berlin, by the time the sea of Soviets descended on the [illegible] of the living dead forsaken to defend their deadened souls amidst the rubble, there was no thing (III, 9a) left to trade for glory, no life left to sacrifice, let alone to live.
But still the hunger, so much that I can no longer be certain that what I recall from the last days of that ill-begotten Empire are not in fact the hallucinations of an emptiness that enshrouds me in the present. The want of this moment, [which] I traverse as through a thickening fog, obliterates each moment of an earlier existence to which it becomes increasingly difficult to stake any claim.
Even when, by what seemed to me to be by some angelic covenant, some visitation, they screened the Film at the theater downtown and I spent what would have bought my day’s meal on the ticket, in desperate hopes that at long last I would have my evidence, my incontrovertible indemnity against the erasure of that person and that place that I still believed to have been—even then, having anxiously awaited the momentous final battle scene, gripping the ends of the armrests with each hand as if to steel myself against the listing of a great ship on a troubled sea, (III, 9b) I was left to scan in terror and in vain the swarm of faces and of uniforms and prosthetic weaponry and mimed battle cries for that harried soldier’s face that would belong to an ever so slightly younger version of myself…
In my failure–in the impossibility of recognizing my former self among the hoards of actors on the screen–my own mounting suspicions were confirmed in the same, devastating sweep of oblivion that erased the last vestiges of hope in me that I had been there, had seen the lights, the cranes, the cameras and crew too numerous to count, had waited for the director’s cue to “Charge!” and had, indeed, charged dutifully, proudly, to that call… (III, 10a)
[GLOSS: What exists in span separating evidence of a past from recollection of that past? For the subject who pretends to have ‘made history’ in some small way–or is deluded enough to project himself upon concept of History as complex of verifiable, discernible events, each perfectly susceptible to description–at what point does lack of material evidence of one’s ‘part’ in History supersede one’s ‘will to historical being’?]